You’ll need a game plan to stay ahead of the microchip shortage and supply chain problems this holiday season.

3 minute read

This holiday season, the microchip shortage and supply chain issues will likely cause problems for holiday shoppers, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). “Electronics, toys, and other products will be (or already are) in short supply,” says the BBB. “Supply shortages, in turn, result in fewer holiday bargains and higher than normal prices.”

In September, the Washington Post reported that shipping times from Asia to the United States had doubled, increasing to “months-long” waits for electronics, furniture and other products. Demand for Microsoft products currently exceeds the supply by more than 50 percent, according to The New York Times.

Microchip shortage and supply chain issues could blow your 2021 holiday shopping budget, forcing you to pay higher prices for hard-to-find items — if you can get your hands on them at all. However, you might still be able to salvage your holiday shopping budget with some proactive planning.

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1. Anticipate shortages on certain items

You probably never gave much thought to all the products that use microchips to function. For example, toys that have light, sound, motion and other microchip technology, smart appliances, computers and gaming systems all use microchips. And all are in high demand and short supply this holiday season.

The BBB recommends knowing which products stores may run out of and being proactive with shopping choices. “Think through your holiday list and identify must-haves that are impacted by the shortage,” says the BBB.

You may find that some of the items on your holiday shopping list are difficult to find in stock or receive in time for the holidays. If that’s the case, consider revising your gift list, replacing potentially out-of-stock products with gifts that are readily available.

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2. Don’t procrastinate

Waiting until the last minute to begin holiday shopping is generally a bad idea. However, this year, putting off shopping is almost a sure way to end up with a pathetic pile of presents under the tree or to give at your family holiday gathering.

“Don’t wait until Black Friday to start holiday shopping this year,” says the BBB. “Certain products may already be sold out by November.”

Find out: 5 Tips for Safer, Smarter Holiday Shopping

3. Watch out for scammers

If your gift list includes high-demand toys like Galactic Snackin’ Grogu Animatronic (aka Baby Yoda), game consoles such as Nintendo Switch and Playstation, LEGO and L.O.L. Surprise dolls, those and other items could be in short supply, says the BBB.

Desperation may tempt you to purchase toys from unfamiliar websites and retailers that claim to have products that are sold out everywhere else. The site may even have professional photos of the item and offer deeply discounted prices as a “last-minute deal” or a “flash sale.” Watch out, though. That great deal could be a scam.

Online shoppers have already submitted holiday shopping scam complaints to the BBB Scam Tracker. Some buyers ordered what seemed to be a high-quality, animatronic toy, only to receive a cheap knockoff of the actual toy. Other consumers ordered products that never arrived and had fake tracking numbers that were useless.

“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,” says the BBB.

Find out: Watch Out for These 4 Holiday Scams

4. Don’t wait too long for a better deal

Even if you’re a savvy comparison shopper, this holiday season isn’t one where you want to hold off on purchases in hopes the item will go on sale later. While it’s smart to spend some time comparing online prices, when you find a good deal this holiday season, don’t wait to snag the hard-to-find product before it’s gone.

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5. Budget accordingly

Supply chain issues have forced retailers to pay higher prices for products this year. That means many retailers will charge higher prices for consumer goods. Keep higher prices in mind when you put together your holiday budget. You may need to shorten your gift list by a few items to stay within budget.

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6. Make sure you have a backup plan

Some retailers already have household and electronic items backordered into 2022, says the BBB. That means you should have a Plan B, just in case you can’t find the items you need, or they’re delayed until after the holidays.

“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,” says the BBB. “Plush toys, outdoor toys, and action figures sans electronic features should stay in stock and reasonably priced this year.”

You may want to buy some “extra” gifts to have on hand in case the products you ordered are delayed. That way, you won’t be one of those desperate shoppers frantically grabbing anything that remains in retail stores on Christmas Eve.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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