The Nintendo Switch has been hard to find in stock anywhere for months, and scalpers are one of the primary causes.
As the global pandemic began to unfold and lockdowns began coming into place, Nintendo Switch stock online and in stores was the last thing on most people’s mind. However, the console was already beginning to be hard to come by as more and more people began looking for ways to spend time at home. Things were made worse when on May 12th, Bloomberg reported that Nintendo “is struggling to procure some essential components for its popular Switch console due to government-imposed lockdowns in Malaysia and the Philippines..”. The already scarce stock was about to become even harder to come by, and scalpers began taking note of the situation.
When I began looking for a Switch I did not realize the extent to which scalpers had taken over the Switch console market, and I was up for a rude awakening to the severity of the issue. I went on the local classifieds website Kijiji and searched for the console, and to my surprise, they were selling for at least a $30 CAD markup and oftentimes even worse. Pages and pages of brand new unopened consoles, some of them selling for $500, and special editions being sold for a ludicrous $800. To put these prices into context, the price, with Ontario’s 13% tax is around $450, so this markup was around 10-20% and sometimes up to 75%. It is truly unfortunate the lengths to which people try to get money, and maybe I can even call it ripping off others for their own personal gain. To think that something that is supposed to unite families and allow everyone to enjoy their time is being used for people to get extra cash makes me truly upset. As a personal anecdote, I have heard that some employees have prevented some people from buying every Switch in stock, but even then it only soft limits the amount of Switches scalpers can obtain. They can always go to other stores to get more and multiply this by the number of people willing to screw over others, and you get the current situation that the Switch is currently living in.
Around May 22nd, I was finally able to obtain a Switch when a user on the website RedFlagDeals posted that the console was in stock at The Source. I quickly ordered one and was satisfied that I would receive the console as there were around 165 in stock at the time. Fast forward one single hour, and there were around 80 left, and it was out of stock by two hours later. This was no small amount of stock, a whopping 165 consoles had come and gone within a couple of hours, and many people still left wanting more. This issue of low stock has continued into June, and now around late June, it appears that Nintendo Switch stock will resume normalcy due to production levels coming back to Pre-COVID19 levels as reported by Tech Radar on June 24th. I wish that retailers were able to combat this abuse by preventing buyers from purchasing more than one console, this way it would make it slightly more difficult for scalpers to purchase an outrageous amount of stock.
I have covered only the availability of the console, however, getting the physical copies of popular games such as Ring Fit or Animal Crossing: New Horizons have also been next to impossible. These two games have been out-of-stock in nearly every store, and finding them requires a mix of luck and knowing where to look. The Ring Fit has been scalped by Kijiji users as well, prices going as high as $150 dollars on an item that costs $100 at retail. Many other first-party games have also been tough to come by such as Smash Bros. Ultimate but shopping around at local stores has proven successful in their search.
It has been a crazy few months and we all just want to sit down and relax, yet some of us were unable to do that because of many factors. The lack of parts due to shutdowns and closures all over the globe combined with greedy scalpers, caused the Nintendo Switch to be one of the hardest items to find during the pandemic. Now in late June, it appears that everything will slowly be coming back to normal over the coming weeks, and the console will no longer be such a high-value item for scalpers. It is truly unfortunate that such a great console for entertainment especially in light of our current situation was put into such a position, but I am glad that things are going to come back to normal soon.