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Why a microchip shortage could get in the way of your holiday shopping

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning people that a microchip shortage could leave you with nothing under the Christmas tree. This means electronics, toys and other products will be, if they aren’t already, in short supply this holiday season.

These supply shortages could result in fewer holiday deals and higher than normal prices, the BBB said. The agency recommends that you get your holiday shopping done soon. Black Friday could even be too late, they said.

“If you find, it grab it right now,” said Leslie Blackwell Director of Public Affairs at BBB Serving Central Virginia.

Blackwell said if you wait too long that perfect holiday gift may no longer be available.

One of the owners of World of Mirth, a toy store in Carytown, told 8News that they are already dealing with a lot of backorders on items and some vendors aren’t taking any more orders for the rest of the year.

Blackwell explained that the microchip shortage effects electronic items including simpler things like toys with lights and sounds.

“Whether it is a microchip or a potato chip there’s seems a supply shortage going on right now,” Blackwell said.

The shortage is compounded by a lack of workers, floating traffic jams, a stressed trucking industry and factory backlogs.

If you want to stick to your budget and score all the gifts on your list, the BBB is offering these tips:

  • Know what products stores might run out of. Millions of everyday products use microchips to function. Computers, gaming systems, smart appliances, cameras, and toys that feature light, sound, motion, or any kind of tech all use microchips, meaning many manufacturers are already struggling to keep up with the demand for their products. Think though your holiday list and identify must-have that are impacted by the shortage.
  • Start shopping earlier than usual. Don’t wait until Black Friday to start holiday shopping this year. Certain products may already be sold out by November, according to some retailers.
  • When you find a good deal, don’t wait to buy. Good deals will be harder to find this year, so if you find a product in stock at a good price, take advantage right away.
  • Budget your holiday shopping without expecting sales. Supply chain problems mean many retailers have had to pay more than usual for inventory and can’t offer the same bargain prices they did last year. In fact, many products that use microchips have already gone up in price, so plan your budget accordingly. This might mean buying fewer presents or organizing a secret Santa style gift exchange.
  • Have a backup plan. Because so many household items use microchip technology, some retailers already have products backordered into 2022. Try to stay flexible this year. If you absolutely can’t get a gift you had in mind, you may need a Plan B. For example, 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. Plush toys, outdoor toys, and action figures sans electronic features should stay in stock and reasonably priced this year.
  • Watch out for scams. Whenever a product is in high demand like the hottest toy of the holiday season, scammers try to take advantage of consumers. Remember, deals that sound too good to be true probably are. In addition, keep an eye out for sketchy sellers that may be selling counterfeit products. Finally, 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.

No matter what holiday deal you may be searching for, scams or deals that are too good to be true are important to keep an eye out for.

“When you’ve got shortages, who comes out of the woodworks but the fraudsters,” Blackwell said.

For more tips, visit BBB.org/Holiday-Tips.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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