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Will the microchip shortage ruin your holiday shopping?

From the Better Business Bureau of Central Virginia:

It’s always a good idea to get your holiday shopping done early, but this year it’s more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a microchip shortage and supply chain issues. This means electronics, toys, and other products will be (or already are) in short supply.

Supply shortages, in turn, result in fewer holiday bargains and higher than normal prices.  This means that sticking to your budget and scoring all the gifts on your list will be harder than usual. To make a success of your holiday shopping this year despite the challenges, BBB recommends the following tips.

Tips for your 2021 holiday shopping

  • Know what products stores might run out of. Millions of everyday products use microchips to function. Computers, gaming systems, smart appliances, cameras, and toys that feature light, sound, motion, or any kind of tech all use microchips, meaning many manufacturers are already struggling to keep up with the demand for their products. Think though your holiday list and identify must-have that are impacted by the shortage.
  • Start shopping earlier than usual. Don’t wait until Black Friday to start holiday shopping this year. Certain products may already be sold out by November, according to some retailers.
  • When you find a good deal, don’t wait to buy. Good deals will be harder to find this year, so if you find a product in stock at a good price, take advantage right away.
  • Budget your holiday shopping without expecting sales. Supply chain problems mean many retailers have had to pay more than usual for inventory and can’t offer the same bargain prices they did last year. In fact, many products that use microchips have already gone up in price, so plan your budget accordingly. This might mean buying fewer presents or organizing a secret Santa style gift exchange.
  • Have a backup plan. Because so many household items use microchip technology, some retailers already have products backordered into 2022. Try to stay flexible this year. If you absolutely can’t get a gift you had in mind, you may need a Plan B. For example, if the toy you wanted for your kids is not available or too expensive, keep in mind that the present shortages only affect certain kinds of gifts. Plush toys, outdoor toys, and action figures sans electronic features should stay in stock and reasonably priced this year.
  • Watch out for scams. Whenever a product is in high demand like the hottest toy of the holiday season, scammers try to take advantage of consumers. Remember, deals that sound too good to be true probably are. In addition, keep an eye out for sketchy sellers that may be selling counterfeit products. Finally, always research vendors you are unfamiliar with to make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate business before you make a purchase or give them your personal information, such as your credit card number.

For More Information

Read the BBB Tip: Smart Shopping Online and visit BBB.org/Holiday-Tips for more ways to get your holiday shopping done safely this year.

Always make purchases from businesses that follow BBB Accreditation Standards and BBB Standards for Trust.

If you come across a scam while holiday shopping, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report can help others stay alert to the danger.

BBB serving Central Virginia serves Richmond, the Tri-Cities, Charlottesville, and Fredericksburg, as well as 42 surrounding counties from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest, and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of BBB include business profiles, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, scam warnings, consumer and business education, and charity review.

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