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Why You Can't Find a Wii for Christmas 450

Nintendo is making Wii consoles at a record pace, some 1.8 million a month. Last week they sold 350,000 units. Yes, just last week. And yet, still, it's going to be almost impossible to find a Wii in a store this Christmas. Wired reports that the problem actually began back in August. Summer being the traditional 'dry' season in gaming usually leads to hardware surpluses, but not with Nintendo's console. The result is a holiday season that Nintendo essentially couldn't prepare for. "Demand for Wii is so high, says analyst Michael Pachter, because of all the different types of consumers competing for the units ... it's not just kids who crave Wii. [It's] an especially big hit at retirement homes ... Hard-core gamers, who initially spurned the Wii's lower graphic power compared to the Xbox and PlayStation 3, have changed their tune on the console, thanks to brilliant software like the first-person shooter Metroid Prime 3. And eBay scalpers? They really want Wii." In fact, the only reliable way to get your hands on a Wii is to go that most dubious of routes. Ebay Wii sales are very brisk indeed this week.
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Why You Can't Find a Wii for Christmas

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  • Re:The math? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Corporate Drone ( 316880 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:29PM (#21519253)
    If they're making more than they're selling, why is it so hard to find a console?

    Check your units of measure. They're making 1.4 million a month, but they sold 350K last week.

    Assuming that the two figures are representative, then you have a point. Otherwise, you're comparing apples and oranges (or, more to the point, the author handing you apples and oranges, and either not realizing it or not caring...).

  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@w o r f . n et> on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:35PM (#21519351)
    It's still relatively easy to get a Wii here. They sell out, but not at the furious pace they used to.

    Last year, they sold out before the store opens (because of more people lining up overnight than the store had). Then it changed early in the new year where it sold out in about 20 minutes. During the summer, it easily took a day to sell out, and now, about a week. (Still brisker than a PS3.)

    At least here (Vancouver, BC), if you really wanted one, you can get one if you try. No fancy lining up, just check a bunch of stores during the week. I spot them quite easily - just check all the usual stores over the course of a week. You don't have to check every store daily - just once a week, and you're bound to run into one with one in stock within a week or two. From observations, companies like Best Buy and other big electronic chains typically get big shipments (~30/week or so per store), than game stores like EBGames (maybe 3 a week). Wal-Mart tends to get a few as well. Generalize to other big stores.

    Of course, with Christmas approaching, I expect the sellout time to be around a day again, so if you have an electronics store (Best Buy, whatever) along your commute, it may help to stop by. If you ask nicely, they may even tell you when the shipments normally come in, so you can plan to visit that day, the day before (stuff occasionally arrives early), and the next business day (in case it's late). Heck, most stores post signs nowadays, so you don't have to ask, or offer clues (e.g., bundles) that they're in stock.
  • Re:Bundle packs (Score:4, Informative)

    by LoverOfJoy ( 820058 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:35PM (#21519359) Homepage
    I've heard of people buying bundles from walmart online only to return the parts they don't want right back to their local walmart. You might want to try that out.
  • Re:The math? (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheThiefMaster ( 992038 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:37PM (#21519393)

    I'd assume that's worldwide production and the sales figure is US.
    From one of the article links:

    Nintendo's 350,000 Wii systems represent the highest one-week U.S. sales total outside of its launch week one year ago.
    So yes, that's US sales.
    From another article link:

    We're at a rate now worldwide of about 1.8 million Wiis produced every month
    So yes, that worldwide production.

    In fact:

    About 40 percent of Wii sales have been in America
    So the US only gets 720,000/month, so the 350,000 sold was two weeks' worth, sold in one week (presumably followed by a week of nearly no sales until the next deliveries). As a rough estimate, that means that Nintendo's Wii production is about half what the demand is. And because of this:

    It takes about five months for us to increase the actual monthly rate of production's not going to get any better before Christmas.
  • Re:Hype (Score:2, Informative)

    by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:38PM (#21519411)
    you should buy a Wii and buy it now, since it's still readily available and presumably won't be in a couple of weeks.

    Correct, except for the part about the Wii being "still readily available". The Wii is in short supply now, as it has been for the entire past year.
  • Yeah... (Score:2, Informative)

    by tarun713 ( 782737 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:38PM (#21519429)
    ...does anyone else remember all the news stores about the Wii before it release last year? And how every 3rd comment was someone saying "There's no need to wait in line, there are going to be plenty! I plan to walk into a store the day after release and buy one." ...12 hrs in line vs 1+ year of it being incredibly difficult to come across. I'm glad I waited in line. :D
  • by B00yah ( 213676 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:40PM (#21519479) Homepage
    I've helped over 2 dozen people find wiis since launch (i got mine at midnight, so I was good), and I'll tell you all the same thing I've told them:

    Check the weekly ads for Target and Best Buy on their respective websites on Saturday night/Sunday Morning. If there's a Wii in the Best Buy ad, go there immediately (sunday morning), they'll be there (ask if they're not on shelves, they may have not been stocked yet). If it's in the target ad, go to the store and ask the person working in electronics when they usually get their shipments in (day of the week). You should be good to get one if you get there before 10am that day.
  • Re:eBay Effect (Score:5, Informative)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:43PM (#21519537)
    "The employees in the stores get first dibs on the consoles when they come in, so they buy up most of them and sell them on eBay for big profit."

    That's possible, but not necessarily true. The retailer I worked at would have forbidden that. If high demand items were in low supply, we weren't allowed to buy them. I know the same was also true for the EB that was down the street. Those stores didn't want that reputation.
  • Re:The math? (Score:2, Informative)

    by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:45PM (#21519557) Journal
    A couple people I know in retail disagree with you.

    The top three days seem to be:

    1) Day after Christmas (all the sales, money and gift cards)
    2) Black Friday
    3) Christmas Eve

    #3 usually comes in second place, with #1 or #3 coming in first, and the other second, depending on the store.
  • Re:The math? (Score:5, Informative)

    by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:48PM (#21519619)
    Maybe you should check this [] out.

    Anecdote isn't evidence, and your friends in retail don't know what they are talking about.
  • by Gybrwe666 ( 1007849 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:49PM (#21519637)
    Amazon is putting them on the website as they get shipments, as are Best Buy and, I've heard, others. I just had a tab open in my browser and refreshed every little bit. One minute it was $425-$600 on Amazon, the next minute it was $249.xx, no sales tax, no shipping. From what I could tell, the units lasted about 30 minutes, and the word hit the Internet on forums and message boards damn fast.

    Of course, it was over $500 on Amazon Resellers this morning.

    Same for DDR and Guitar Hero, which are apparently incredibly rare games for no apparent reason that I can see. One minute DDR was $168, the next it was $69.99. What's amusing is seeing how fast the Amazon resellers react and adjust their prices.

  • Re:eBay Effect (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:53PM (#21519689)
    All they're doing is having friends and family come in to make the purchases, on the day they know the shipments are being put on the shelves.

    This isn't the only issue. You can find Wiis easily enough, if you're prepared to stump up the cash and buy a package that includes more controllers and games, even battery packs. Most people don't want to part with $500+ just to get a Wii though.
  • by ctid ( 449118 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @01:11PM (#21520003) Homepage
    I know of people in the UK who have bought Wiis from Amazon in Germany or in France - there doesn't seem to be any problem with shipping to the UK. It's in stock now (ie 17:08 GMT on 29th November 2007) at []. "Verfügbarkeit: Auf Lager." Means, "Availability: In Stock". Just at the moment it is out of stock at the French Amazon store.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 29, 2007 @01:13PM (#21520035)

    This method is not guaranteed, but it will help a lot. It helps best if you live in a large urban area with multiple stores around.

    1. Wait until midweek. Tuesdays are good, but Wednesday or Thursday also works.
    2. Actually physically visit a Target. Go early after opening. Go to where the Wii should be in the locked glass container.
    3. Look at the label strip where the $249.99 price is. Look for a series of numbers under a barcode. This is Target's internal tracking number for the item. Write this number down. Make sure it's not the UPC number (grab another item with a UPC to make sure - UPCs are longer than the Target number, generally.)
    4. Go to the nearest manned, not busy register. Guest service or the jewlery counters work great.
    5. Ask the asociate to do a product lookup for that number. Do not tell them it's for a Wii!
    6. The associate will run the numbers and laugh when they see what item it is. Politely ask them to keep running the lookup.
    7. Ask the associate to search other stores. This prints a list of all stores reporting any Wiis actually in inventory. It gives the 10 closest stores.
    8. Ask the associate to write down how many each store reported has.
    9. Ignore any stores listed with just 1 unit. This is mostly likely a ghost for the display unit.
    10. Check distance to store to see if it's worth driving that far.
    11. Call the promising stores and confirm stock! It's a long shot, but see if they can hold it for the time it takes you to drive. Less ethical people may resort to social engineering at this point.
    12. Drive at a reasonable speed and retrieve your Wii. Or, if you know someone in that area, commission them to immediately go forth and fetch.

    This is not guaranteed in the slightest. It may take a few attempts. It's easeir than camping ad days, though, and will eventually get you somewhere. Try not to use the same employee day after day, and keep in mind that stock levels are only updated in the morning, not instantaneously. Don't keep checking back.

  • Re:eBay Effect (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 29, 2007 @01:16PM (#21520069)

    That's possible, but not necessarily true. The retailer I worked at would have forbidden that. If high demand items were in low supply, we weren't allowed to buy them. I know the same was also true for the EB that was down the street. Those stores didn't want that reputation.

    Oh bullshit. My brother works for a major chain and he snarfs two Wiis a week, prepays for them when they're stocking at 3am, and does what the hell he wants with them when he gets off work (like sell one to me at cost, then Craig's List at +$100 for the others).
  • by hador_nyc ( 903322 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @02:07PM (#21520975) Homepage
    In NYC, and I'll bet this is true in LA, there is a Nintendo World store. They sell 300 Wiis every day to the first 300 people in line. I got one for myself last year this way, and one for my nephews; they're old enough this year to ask for one. The catch, you have to get in line early; 2 hours and rising; even though the store opens at 9am.

    This is the only way I know of. I hope this helps.

    By the way, the Nintendo World store in Manhattan is in Rockefeller Center.
  • Re:eBay Effect (Score:3, Informative)

    by Samus ( 1382 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @02:31PM (#21521365) Journal
    The display is just to get you in the door. The boxes are all empties and the clerk will probably laugh when you ask if they have any. If you are desperate they may have a waiting list. Or you can find out what days they get their shipments on and stop by early each day.
  • by Autumnmist ( 80543 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @02:35PM (#21521437)
    There is only one Nintendo World store in the entire US. Thank your lucky star you live in the NYC metro area.
  • by Pope ( 17780 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @02:44PM (#21521591)
    ...where all the MS and Linux dorks brag smugly about their machines, and any attempts at correcting lies with facts are modded Flamebait.
  • by Osty ( 16825 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @03:51PM (#21522723)

    Same for DDR and Guitar Hero, which are apparently incredibly rare games for no apparent reason that I can see. One minute DDR was $168, the next it was $69.99. What's amusing is seeing how fast the Amazon resellers react and adjust their prices.

    I don't think the resellers are actually adjusting their prices. What you're seeing is how Amazon's prices are displayed. If something is in stock, you'll see the "new" price, or $249 in the case of a Wii. When it's out of stock, you'll see the "New & Used from $XXX" price, which means you're buying from resellers. Once Amazon's stock runs out, the display flips from the "new" price back to the "new and used" price. The resellers likely aren't changing their prices at all, since they know that 30 minutes later they'll be relevant again.

  • by beav007 ( 746004 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:11PM (#21527781) Journal
    Unfortunately, it's not as easy as that. Due to the "Ha HA, you're in Australia" electronics tax, the Australian RRP is around $400, whereas the RRP in the US appears to be $250 (according to a cursory google search). With the dollar so close to trading at parity, and adding postage+insurance, we'd probably have to hit at least $US450 for the basic pack just to break even.

    This probably goes a long way towards explaining why they are easy to get here...

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly