The chip shortage might ruin Christmas if you don't shop soon

Even toys aren’t safe from this issue.

Credit: Gordon Mah Ung/IDG

For PC enthusiasts, the global chip shortages aren’t fresh news. Trying to get components for DIY builds or a even good pre-built PC at a decent price has been a wild ride since spring 2020, and laptops fly off store shelves as quickly as they arrive. But continuing to wait out all electronics purchases won’t pay off this holiday season—not with recent reports that even toys will be affected by the shortages when shoppers go on the hunt for gifts. 

Yes, children’s toys with electronic chips will be in short supply, according to In its interview with the head of Sky Castle Toys, the crowdsourced-deals site explains the steeper difficulty faced by the toy industry in obtaining processors. Competition from other major industries like PC, automobile, smartphone, and home appliance makers means fewer available chips for toys that incorporate motion, light, or sound, or connect to a companion app.

With supply chain issues now reaching as far as RC cars and even toys without chips (like Lego), prepandemic expectations of availability for popular products to meet end-of-the-year holiday demand have gone out the window. Docks at ports are completely full right now. In the US, multiple container ships are waiting off the west coast to offload their cargo. As reported by Business Insider, their number reached an all-time high in mid-September. Container prices have gone up, too, with news reports describing a sixfold (or more) jump in costs. The logjams and rising costs mean resupplies for popular products may not make it to stores in time for the holidays.

All of those logistical woes also affect traditional technology products, of course, piling atop the effects of ongoing chip shortages. Regardless if you're shopping for toys or tech, be ready to purchase what you need when you see it for a good price—or even if you just plain see it. You may not see it again soon, much less for as cheap.

Don’t underestimate demand now, either. Assuming that other shoppers aren’t making runs on bigger ticket items is a gamble that you’ll likely lose. Laptop manufacturers say that they’re selling models as fast as they’re able to make them—and with Windows 11 launching soon on October 5, it could be an especially hot holiday for laptops, making competition for available stock even fiercer. Graphics cards and many other PC components are already incredibly difficult to find at retailers.

Even back up ideas for gifts could fall through if you pick a popular enough option. Our advice? Start your hunt now, which you can make easier by following our guides on how to find deals and how to score an item that everyone wants. Our roundups of the best laptops, SSDs, graphics cards, and gaming CPUs can also help you identify the PC gear you should be shopping for to begin with.

Luck favors the prepared.

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Alaina Yee

PC World (US online)
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