This year, we are going through a unique situation. We live in an era of scarcity caused by widespread unemployment and the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns.
The time of year has come when our mailboxes are flooded with a plethora of discounts for Black Friday, Cyber Week, and all the sales promotions that follow.
However, this year, we are going through a unique situation. We live in an era of scarcity generated by a global shortage of chips, widespread unemployment, and the effects of lockdowns imposed by governments to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. That has affected global supply chains, complicated manufacturing, and prevented the shipment of items to all parts of the world.
That is now affecting the types of tech products we can purchase for our loved ones this holiday season. Finding video game devices like the PlayStation and Xbox consoles, which have been in perpetual shortage throughout the year, will remain a challenge. Additionally, the list of hard-to-get items has grown even further, now including Wi-Fi routers, inexpensive laptops, and audio equipment.
Buyers looking to purchase consumer electronics will have to change their strategy. The most important key? Don’t wait until Black Friday.
“Buy first,” advised Patrick Moorhead, CEO of Moor Insights, a technology research firm. “Make the decision between saving a little money or not getting the product at any price.”
Here’s a guide to consumer electronics that will be hard to find this year.
High-end video game consoles and graphics cards
Let’s start with some of the most desirable and hard-to-buy tech products: Sony’s PlayStation 5, Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, and Nintendo’s new Switch, which have been virtually impossible to find on store shelves this past year.
In the past, some console makers have limited production of the devices to help build buzz for the products, video game analysts say. However, the shortage of chips (and the growing demand for video game devices driven by people who were locked at home due to the pandemic) has exacerbated the shortage of stocks.
Many large retailers sell the new consoles online only, and when PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch come out, they sell out in a few minutes. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have warned that chip shortages could lead to supply constraints throughout 2022.
Chip shortages and overwhelming demand for video game products have also triggered a perpetual shortage of high-end graphics cards, which people use to upgrade their computers to support more powerful games, Moorhead said.
The strategy? Consider automation. Millions of people are following Twitter accounts that scan retail sites and tweet as soon as video game consoles and graphics cards are back in stock. You can configure your Twitter applications to send a notification to your cell phone the moment those accounts post something. I recommend following @mattswider, editor-in-chief of the TechRadar blog, who uses sources in retail stores to post inventory updates on consoles and graphics cards.
During Black Friday, new Wi-Fi routers are often heavily discounted. However, there will almost certainly be fewer of those deals this year.
That’s due to a ripple effect related to the scarcity of so-called legacy nodes, a miniature chip used to create wireless sensors in network equipment, said William Crockett, vice president of Tanaka Precious Metals, a component maker. Because that component is not readily available, companies could build fewer routers. That in turn means that retailers are less likely to cut prices to prevent them from running out, he said.
So if you or your friends and family want an internet router, buy it now. In the unlikely event that they put the item on sale on Black Friday, you can ask the retailer for a retroactive price adjustment or return the item and buy it at the discounted price.
Retailers typically offer a wide variety of low-cost laptops on Black Friday priced under $ 400, including Chromebooks and other laptops from manufacturers like Acer, Dell, and HP.
Those deals will be more rare during this holiday season. Computer manufacturers face a shortage of USB controllers, the chip that allows a computer to communicate with the USB port, Moorhead said. Therefore, manufacturers prioritize those parts for the production of more expensive laptops that generate higher profit margins, he said.
The good news is that you can expect deals on premium laptops, like MacBooks, but less discounts on cheaper ones.
There are some rare online discounts for inexpensive laptops, you just have to be proactive. Last week, Walmart sold an HP laptop for about $ 280, according to Pete King, a producer at Slickdeals, a website that tracks discounts online.
“If you haven’t started looking, you’re already late,” he said.
Finally, the chip shortage has affected analog chips, the circuits that gadgets depend on to manage electricity. The technology products most affected by this are audio accessories such as speakers and headphones, which rely on analog chips to lower their electricity consumption and connect wirelessly to laptops and smartphones.
However, the shortage will not affect all audio accessories. Moorhead noted that Sony and Apple develop their own chips for audio devices, so people won’t have a problem buying fancy headphones from big tech companies this season.
That’s good news for AirPod lovers, but bad news for tiktokers and Gen Zers trying to bring less popular headphones into fashion. (I)