Sure, you've become inured by the persistent shortages of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and other essential products because of panic buying and hoarding, but the surprise must-have item of the coronavirus pandemic that is suddenly in short supply is the Nintendo (NTDOY 0.61%) Switch, the hybrid portable game console.
With ever greater numbers of people isolating and self-quarantining due to shelter-in-place orders to help control the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, they're looking to video games to help ease the monotony. The Switch platform is quickly becoming a must-have device.
GameSpot reports Nintendo is working to resupply retailers, saying in a statement, "Nintendo Switch hardware is selling out at various retail locations in the U.S., but more systems are on the way. We apologize for any inconvenience."
Gamers aren't playing
The Switch is currently unavailable from major online retailers including Amazon.com, Best Buy, GameStop, and Walmart, leading third-party sellers to hike up prices. Where the MSRP for the Switch is $300, listings for the portable consoles show them being offered for over $500 each. The Switch Lite retails for $200, but now lists for around $300.
GameStop had tried to assert that its stores were "essential" and kept them open after other stores were ordered closed because it maintained that its products helped people get through the pandemic. A backlash, though, forced the retailer to close its stores, instead operating them as curbside pickup locations.
It's not likely the markups on a Switch will fall under the price-gouging statutes many states are beefing up during the pandemic, but the devices may still be subject to hoarding when Nintendo refreshes the supply.