Best Buy’s limited reopening seems to have attracted most of the continental United States, new reports show. The retailer loaded up on Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 units over the weekend and made the difficult logistical choice of carrying them physically for the time being. The result is nothing less than extortionate. Unwilling to social distance and give online purveyors any more business, a proverbial deluge practically sunk 300 branches to the ground as massive demand battered stores and forced Best Buy to its knees. Long lines circled multiple blocks while several hopefuls, still desperate to get a PS5 or Xbox Series without having to spend extra on delivery fees, camped nearby to wait out the queue. With the majority of the population wasting away at home in fear of contracting COVID-19, there was absolutely no way a major PS5 restock was going smoothly.
The insanity caused by the Xbox Series and PS5 restock continues to happen in every Best Buy across America, including Puerto Rico. Check out user footage here:
The Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 have been in ridiculously short supply since the year began, despite releasing only two months prior in November. Though every new console ordinarily experiences deficits during the first six months of circulation — because the hype often creates far more demand than manufacturers are able to contend with — this has more to do with the pandemic than investors realize. Mat Piscatella of The NPD Group told Kotaku over Zoom the problem is bound to clear up a little over Q2 and yet Summer has come and gone and the drought still remains. Xbox Series and PS5 restocks have only resulted in more scarcities as consumers fight over the last available goods.
Trade lines, which used to ebb and flow in sync with the economy, have long been backed up as air travel sought to contain the virus — and borders closed in response to this need. Flights are grounded, save for emergency missions moving high-risk patients to available hospitals. Freighters have freed up their coffers and made shipping COVID-19 vaccines across the world top-priority. Transit for other items have taken a major beating as a consequence, resulting in less parts making it to factories and less completed units reaching customers wherever they’re required. With no new components coming in, production on certain electronics like the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 has stalled, with manufacturers forced to churn out less than their usual output to cope with dwindling rations. It doesn’t help that Xbox Series and PS5 restocks are routinely affected by scalpers — shameless opportunists eager to take advantage of a growing pandemic.
An ongoing semiconductor shortage, as reported by the Harvard Business Review, is also hampering the PS5 restock, with the coronavirus pandemic only serving to exacerbate conditions. Last year, a fire consumed two plants in Japan responsible for fiberglass and chip manufacturing, crippling not just the electronics sector but also the automobile industry. Because of reduced demand for cars, merchants have been ordering less production parts — parts used to make computers and video game consoles on the side. To make matters worse, a mid-pandemic trade war between the United States and China resulted in the federal government banning the Eastern mainland’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation in favor of American-produced semiconductors. With less chips going into assembly, resources for a PS5 restock have reached an all-time low, with the Xbox Series and PS5 among those affected. Any attempts at restocking was never going to create enough supply to satisfy ten times more the usual percentage of demand.
Those still interested in queuing up at Best Buy better prep themselves for the long haul. Eligible locations hand out tickets at 7:30 AM and require customers to purchase only one unit at a time, but stockpiles are draining fast. The retailer’s Xbox Series and PS5 restocks may not even last the weekend.