As Americans ramp up shopping in the waning days of the coronavirus pandemic, they may be in for a rude surprise: The goods they covet are nowhere to be found or have become more expensive.
In many cases, empty shelves and higher prices are the result of a shortage of semiconductor chips. In fact, the situation has grown so dire that The New York Times recently dubbed the microchips “the new toilet paper,” referencing the shortage of TP during the early days of the pandemic.
Without semiconductor chips, some of our favorite products are going AWOL or going up in price. Following are items that are in short supply or more expensive — or both — due to the chip shortage.
As the pandemic forced us to stay home, the demand for TVs jumped. The microchip shortage has made it more difficult to manufacture new televisions, leading to a price increase of around 30% for larger TVs since last summer, Wired reports.
As Paul Gagnon, senior research director for consumer devices at analyst firm Omdia, tells Wired:
“Anything that has a screen built into it is going to be affected by these price increases.”
2. New and used cars
The shortage of microchips is making it tough to find a new car. Inventory is down 48% year over year, and trucks and SUVs are especially scarce, The Associated Press reports. That in turn has raised demand for used vehicles.
The paucity of vehicles has resulted in price increases. Edmunds reports that the percentage of shoppers paying above the sticker price rose from 8.1% in April 2020 to 12.7% in April of this year.
The same semiconductor shortage that is keeping cars out of dealer lots also is preventing the manufacture of new ambulances.
For many weeks, Ford Motor Co. — which makes about 70% of the ambulance chassis used in the U.S. — has shut down production of the chassis at various plants, the American Ambulance Association reports. Ford is projecting a production loss of more than 1.1 million units this year.
4. Rental cars
Thanks to the waning pandemic, AAA projects that the number of people who travel at least 50 miles over Memorial Day weekend will jump 60% year over year. Unfortunately, the fleet of rental cars in the U.S. is not keeping up.
As we have reported, rental car companies sold off much of their fleet when demand tanked thanks to COVID-19. Now, those same companies are having a hard time finding replacement vehicles thanks to the chip shortage. As a result, rental car rates are soaring.
5. Gaming consoles
Love to play video games? This may be the time to find out if you can live with board games instead.
6. Cameras and video doorbells
Cameras, video doorbells and other similar products are rising in price due to the chip shortage.
For example, Wyze recently hiked prices on some of its products, including Wyze Cam v3. In a press release, the company noted that the rising cost of chips and other materials is putting pressure on its bottom line.
As a result, Wyze expects prices to be volatile “for the foreseeable future as we try to keep up with fluctuating costs in the post-pandemic world.”
7. Dog-washing booths
The chip shortage is making itself felt in some strange places. Case in point: Pity poor Fido, who is likely to have trouble simply getting a decent bath these days.
CCSI International — which makes electronic dog-washing booths favored by dog-park managers and members of the military — tells The Washington Post that the chip shortage is raising its costs and and has forced the company to use a new type of chip that is causing delays.
From fridges to microwave ovens, the semiconductor chip shortage is leaving home appliance makers in “unplugged” mode.
Whirlpool Corp. reports that chip deliveries fell short of its orders by about 10% in March, according to Reuters. Other appliance manufacturers are also feeling the squeeze, leading to a shortage of available microwaves, refrigerators, washing machines and more.
When you think of microchips, computers are probably among the first things to come to mind. So, it is likely no surprise that the chip shortage is being felt in the world of computing.
Apple recently reported that the chip shortage was slowing production of iPads and Mac computers, according to The Washington Post.