Every Christmas season, certain products see surges of demand and can sell out before folks are able to place their orders. This trend is continuing in 2020, but it will play out quite differently from how it did in recent years. Unlike in the past, it’s not just the hot gifts that are being cleaned off store shelves in the holiday shopping rush; it’s also basic household appliances, face masks and even bidets. It’s all because of the pandemic.
“COVID has changed so much about shopping, whether looking for groceries, clothing, school supplies or anything else,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “We’re seeing items sell out that we never really expected to. We’re still seeing problems with stores being unable to restock things like disinfectant wipes and sprays, and even staple items like rice. Being stuck at home has been a driving factor for a lot of things selling out, from laptops and webcams to home fitness equipment like hand weights and resistance bands this year. We’ve also seen a higher demand for bikes this year, as people find alternative ways to exercise that don’t involve going to a gym or being around others.”
Last updated: Nov. 6, 2020
The PS5 and Xbox Series X
- PS5: $499.99
- Xbox Series X: $500
“These are high-demand items anyway, but if people are afraid of another lockdown happening, then odds are they’ll be grabbing these off the shelves when they can,” Deal News’s Ramhold said. “Earlier this year we saw the Nintendo Switch go in and out of stock at several stores during lockdown as more people looked for ways to entertain themselves and connect with friends while they were stuck at home. Sure, the PS5 and Xbox Series X are new consoles that consumers will be rushing to own anyway, but we might see them sell out even faster this year.”
Virtual Reality Headsets
- Price: $299 and up
“While these might not completely sell out, you might find slim pickings if you wait too long to buy a VR headset and other accessories,” said Gabrielle Pastorek, retail analyst at Finder. “We expect VR to be a hot gift this year, given the fact that most people are hunkering indoors and limiting travel.”
The iPhone 12 Pro
- Price: $999 before trade??’in
“The new iPhone 12 (in all of its various iterations and sizes) is likely to be a hot-ticket item,” said Dave Bowden, founder, Irreverent Gent. “But early indicators suggest that the higher-priced iPhone 12 Pro, which offers a better camera and upgraded screen, is already starting to outpace the other versions.”
- Price: Varies
“We saw a run on paper products, like toilet paper and paper towels, at the beginning of the pandemic, so it was surprising to hear that both Amazon and Costco have expressed concerns about thin stock levels again,” said Trae Bodge, shopping expert at truetrae.com. “My guess is that this is due to ‘lean manufacturing,’ which means that production levels are controlled very tightly based on need (some fast fashion and cars follow this model as well). Essentially, there is enough toilet paper for everyone, but if consumers start aggressively stocking up – which they likely are as cases rise again – there won’t be enough to go around.”
- Price: Starting at $30
You know what really helps cut down the need for the overly demanded paper products such as toilet paper? A bidet!
“Adoption of bidet seats and attachments are a hot trend as people focus more on better hygiene and greener initiatives,” said Regina Conway, consumer expert at Slickdeals.net. “Top companies like Bio Bidet and Toto were top sellers on Prime Day, so while they have an expansive selection of models and recent discounts have offered great value, remaining inventory is in high demand.”
Face Masks — Especially in Kids’ Sizes
- Price: Varies
“With some schools already back in session and others possibly returning to in-person schooling in the spring semester, there’s a chance we could see face masks disappear off the shelves this holiday season,” Ramhold said. “We tend to see practical gifts being given every year to some degree, but now with more stores offering up their own selection of face masks and with fun prints that’ll appeal to different ages, we could see these being hard to find by the time Christmas rolls around. Enticing kids to wear face masks all day in school can be difficult as they’re not the most comfortable accessory out there, but one way to make it more fun is by making them look interesting. I could see parents trying to make sure they have multiple designs available so that their kids almost have a different pattern for every weekday to have some fun with it.”
Space Heaters, Fire Pits and Heated Blankets
- Price for a space heater: Varies on size and needs; The New York Times’ Wirecutter favors the Vornado VH200, which is $70 at Kohl’s
- Price for a fire pit: Varies; Home Depot’s selection starts at $39 and goes up to more than $5,000
- Price for a heated blanket: Varies; The New York Times’ Wirecutter favors the Sunbeam Velvet Plush Heated Blanket, which is $70 for a full-size blanket
“These items are always in high demand when winter starts to roll around because they’re ways for consumers to control their heating without driving up a utility bill, especially if they don’t have central heating,” Ramhold said. “However, this year, some industry analysts are actually expecting these to sell out even faster as more people will be spending more time at home because they’re still adhering to quarantine rules.”
Fire pits and patio heaters also will be extra-popular this year.
“Many shoppers have been using the time at home this year to make over their spaces, including the backyard, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see that extend to the winter and for both patio heaters and fire pits to sell out quickly,” Ramhold said.
Kristen Regine, a professor specializing in consumer behavior at the College of Business at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, said she also expects a rise in demand in blankets and heated blankets as restaurants start using heated igloos for outdoor dining. “Consumers will be looking for safe ways to entertain with family, and outside will still continue to be a focal point for purchases.”
- Price: Consumer Reports recommended models starting at $200 and going up to $900
“Being stuck at home means noticing things you might not have noticed before about your air quality,” Ramhold said. “Air purifiers have been popular this year already, but with people hunkering down to spend the cold season indoors, we expect them to fly off shelves once again. They could be especially hard to find in areas on the West Coast that are currently dealing with wildfires, as many people will have already bought them in an effort to help clear smoke from their homes.”
Conway offered that popular brands such as Dyson, Molekule and Coway “are selling faster than ever before, so shoppers getting them as gifts or in preparation for family holiday gatherings to add a layer of cleaner air protection for guests will want to secure sale pricing in the early November sales.”
- Price: From $15 to $500, according to Consumer Reports
“This is another item we see as part of many winter sales. With homes turning up the heat to combat the cold outside, it means drying the air out inside which can have ill effects from dehydration to drying out mucous membranes and just being generally uncomfortable,” Ramhold said. “Humidifiers can help to alleviate those annoyances, and since many of us will be staying home more this winter, we expect these to be an item that could sell out quickly. Many of us already utilize a humidifier during the winter, but if you’re looking to upgrade or purchase an extra, beware they might be harder to find if you wait too long this year.”
- Price: Varies
“We’ve anecdotally seen stories of people making huge alcohol runs earlier in the year, and with winter descending there’s a chance we could see stores selling out of certain types of spirits, wine and beer,” Ramhold said. “Ordinarily these could be in short supply with people planning massive holiday gatherings, but this year, it could be that we just see shoppers stocking up for themselves.”
- Price: Varies
“Some companies like Frito Lay and Coca-Cola have paused or discontinued production on certain snacks and drinks,” Ramhold said. “If your favorites happen to be one of those items, then once they’re gone, they’re just gone. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be really popular items, but if you have a love for something kind of niche you’d better stock up while you can.”
- Price: Varies depending on specs; at Target, kids’ bikes are as low as $74
“Bikes are already hard to come by due to a spike in demand during the coronavirus outbreak,” Pastorek said. “So plan to get on a waiting list or place your order very early to have a chance at having your bike in time for Christmas.”
Home Gym Equipment
- Price: Varies, but a Peloton bike, for instance, will set you back at least $1,895, and that doesn’t include the monthly membership fee.
“Treadmills, indoor bikes, dumbbells, gym mats and other home gym necessities have been in short supply with the coronavirus pandemic as well, and this trend is expected to continue through the holiday shopping season,” Pastorek said.
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