In the early months of the pandemic, chip production tanked and demand for chip-driven products increased. Presto change-o: chip shortage! And while you probably don’t shop for microchips, you probably shop for items that can’t be sold without them — like, laptops. In a holiday season forecast published in October, Stephen Baker of the market research firm the GDP Group wrote that entry-level consumer electronics — like, laptops, or, more precisely, cheap-ish laptops — “may be harder to come by.” A report on holiday tech inventory this week by the New York Times basically concurred, noting that consumers should expect fewer laptops (and fewer deals) on machines in the sub-$400 price range.
Finally, some positive supply chain news: Concerns that our pandemic-plagued system would wreak havoc on the holiday shopping season were dispelled this week. The Commerce Department recorded an increase in retail sales in October, indicating that consumers are finding things to buy. At the same time, Walmart’s CEO announced that the retailer had increased its inventory and that its locations in the United States were “ready for the holidays.” Target and TJ Maxx and Marshalls’ parent firm struck similar chords. Here’s a rundown of 12 items and categories that have been influenced by the supply chain, as well as where they are now. If you stick with it until the conclusion, you’ll have a clear picture of what’s going on.
What’s a prospective laptop buyer to do? In advice that will be repeated throughout this guide: Look around, and click around. Here, for instance, is a real, live laptop deal from our CBS Essentials look at Amazon’s early Black Friday sale: a four-and-a-half-star rated touchscreen HP Chromebook with 4GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage — and a price tag under $200. Per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of Aug. 31, the inventory of frozen turkeys and turkey parts was 24% lower than the three-year average (from 2018-2020). The feds said high feed costs were partly responsible for decreased turkey production, which itself was partly responsible for fewer frozen turkeys.
At last look, the L.O.L. Surprise OMG House of Surprises was available via Amazon, as was the L.O.L. Surprise O.M.G. Movie Magic Studios playset. In August, the American Booksellers Association advised booksellers to stock up on titles they expected to be in demand during the holiday shopping season. Maybe everybody got the memo? After weeks of monitoring Amazon’s Top 10 best-sellers of 2021, we’ve yet to encounter an out-of-stock message. So, no, no need to panic-buy copies of “I Love You to the Moon and Back.” (And, besides, with books, even when hardcovers and paperbacks are sold out, e-book editions are often available.)
As reported in September, the great chip shortage forced Apple to cut production on its new iPhone 13 series through the end of the year. Fortunately for Apple adherents, 90 million iPhones minus 10% (the anticipated production cut) is still a lot. As of publication, the new iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini were available directly via Apple, and at a host of retailers and cell providers. Not only were there phones, there were deals. Two of the best we spotted: Walmart is offering the $799 128 GB iPhone 13 for $0 down, with a monthly installment plan that ties the phone to either an AT&T or Verizon service plan; Best Buy, meanwhile, was offering the device for a one-time payment of $700, with either a new AT&T line or account.
Many retailers are releasing limited quantities of these hard-to-find consoles (thanks, chip shortage) during the holidays, but finding one at list price will be a matter of determination and luck — the more frequently you check stock with retailers online and in stores, the more likely you are to catch one of the holiday season’s sporadic restocks. If you’re intent on scoring one of these before 2021’s done, then, sure, there’s always eBay — where the PS5 and Xbox consoles are going for about $1,000 each, a 100% markup from their respective $500 list prices.
A better option, as we previously recommended, is StockX, the third-party marketplace. As of publication, an authenticated Xbox X Series console could be had for $786, while a similarly authenticated PS5 with Blu-ray was selling for $800. The prices on StockX fluctuate a lot, from minute to minute sometimes, so as they say, your mileage may vary. You can also hit the buttons below to check current stock availability for the PS5 at Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart.