Christmas shortages: The phones, toys and gadgets you might not see under the tree this year

Stock shortages mean you might have to be flexible on the color or wait up to eight weeks for the new iPhone 14 Pro. Photo / Apple

Ticking off the Christmas wish list could be tricky this year with stock shortages and long wait lists for some in-demand products.

Computers, gaming consoles and accessories as well as phones and wireless headphones are low in stock and should be on the “get in quick” list for Christmas.

Smaller gifts and stocking fillers may be available but not in the style, flavor, color or brand specified on the wish list.

On the food front, Christmas and summer fruit staples such as strawberries are expected to sell out and the traditional pavlova might be more expensive to whip up with the cost of eggs rising.

Staff shortages and supply chain issues have been a constant issue for the past two years and retailers say there will be little relief before the festive season.

Liisa Matinvesi-Bassett, New Zealand country manager for price comparison website PriceSpy, said mainly retailers had been hit by stock shortages.

“Across the shopping categories of computers and accessories, 41 percent of products show as being out of stock on PriceSpy. And across games and consoles, it’s 27 percent.

“Even though the stock status is much better than it was last year, across popular products, such as the PlayStation 5 and graphics cards, there is still a big shortage.”

Those with the new iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max on their wish list need to keep an eye out.

Retailers are selling out of the hot-ticket items as soon as they come into the store and many have a six-week wait. News the key iPhone factory has been shut down because of a Coronavirus outbreak is expected to affect stock further.

Those after the new iPhone 14 Pro might need to be flexible on color or face a wait of up to eight weeks.  Photo / Apple
Those after the new iPhone 14 Pro might need to be flexible on color or face a wait of up to eight weeks. Photo / Apple

Matinvesi-Bassett said a global shortage of components was to blame for the tech shortage in New Zealand.

“The situation has improved from a year ago but factories where components and products are made are still not running at full efficiency due to Covid-19 lockdowns and staff shortages.

“Logistical issues have also made it harder to get the raw materials.”

Shoppers are encouraged to be flexible and prepared to avoid disappointment and empty space under the tree come December.

For a specific tool, book, toy or tech gadget that can’t be substituted, it will pay to get in quick.

“One of our top tips for successful sale shopping is to be well prepared – don’t leave things to the last minute,” Matinvesi-Bassett said.

“If they experience a stock issue, shoppers should try to be flexible. For example, use a product comparison site like PriceSpy to try to compare alternative products side-by-side.”

Steve Higgs, general manager of the Fruit World group, said flexibility with food choices will also be key.

“Increased demand particularly during Christmas week will affect anything with the word berry in it.

“Customers tend to buy these as late as possible for maximum freshness.”

Higgs said staff shortages had hit the fruit industry hard.

Strawberries are a Christmas table staple and are expected to be in shorter supply this year.  Photo / Babiche Martens
Strawberries are a Christmas table staple and are expected to be in shorter supply this year. Photo / Babiche Martens

“Supply will also be impacted by a potential shortage of fruit pickers or any challenging weather we may have in the lead-up to Christmas such as rain or extreme heat, which can stress the berries.

“Melons such as watermelon, rock melon, and honeydew can also be tricky in terms of supply this time of year as we are in the cross-over zone between imported Australian produce finishing and NZ local supply starting.”

According to a Countdown supermarket spokesperson, the arrival of stone fruit is expected to be a little later than usual.

“The recent weather has caused some challenges for our growers, which means that the start of the stone fruit season may be a little delayed, but once the Central Otago fruit ripens up we expect supply to come right and we’ll have plenty of stone fruit available in time for Christmas.

“We’re also expecting that cherries may be a little later than usual due to the weather, but it’s looking like we’ll still be in full supply by Christmas.”

It’s good news for summer salads filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicum and lettuce with all expected to be in full supply and at reasonable prices.

Big box retailer Costco has already seen sought-after decorations sold out. CEO Patrick Noone said the company had an “early in, early out” merchandise strategy so what was available one day was often gone the next.

“This is particularly true for our non-food departments and seasonal items.”

Noone said the new store at Westgate would be well stocked with fresh produce over Christmas.

“For Christmas food essentials like ham, turkey and seafood, we work with our vendors ahead of time to secure sufficient stock for our members. However, it’s still best to get in early to avoid disappointment.”

The traditional Christmas ham could be replaced by chicken if supplies are short due to staffing and packaging shortages.
The traditional Christmas ham could be replaced by chicken if supplies are short due to staffing and packaging shortages.

Shortages are also expected to hit the toy market.

If Gabby’s Dollhouse, LOL tots, Care Bears and Monster Jam remote-controlled trucks are on your kid’s wish list, be warned – stocks are limited.

Planet Fun CEO Jeremy Kirk-Smith said despite improvements to the supply chain from last year there were still challenges.

Shortages were also expected to hit popular toys such as Rainbow High dolls, Disney Encanto and large Pikachu soft toys.

Gabby's Dollhouse is a popular children's toy from the Netflix show of the same name and is in short supply for Christmas.  Photo / PlanetFun
Gabby’s Dollhouse is a popular children’s toy from the Netflix show of the same name and is in short supply for Christmas. Photo / PlanetFun

Toys created around the popular Netflix and YouTube show Gabby’s Dollhouse are in limited supply in New Zealand.

“The toys sold out the minute they hit the shelves in the USA, so NZ had to wait,” Kirk-Smith said.

“Stock is still limited.”

Large plush toys such as the Care Bears range and Pokemon are in short supply with their continued popularity causing a strain on material supplies and factories at capacity.

Kirk-Smith said toys were pretty recession-proof because of the joy they brought children.

And with the cost of living crisis hitting hard, toys could be purchased to fit most budgets.

“If you get the brand and toy right a kid can be just as delighted with a low-cost gift as a high one.”

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