Pandemic leaves retailers low on stock ahead of Black Friday sale - report

A woman using a computer and paying with a credit card
"The only thing we can be certain about this year is that nothing's certain." Photo credit: Getty Images

New Zealanders hoping to pick up bargains for Christmas in this year's Black Friday sales may be left disappointed as research shows the majority of some tech products are out of stock.

PriceSpy, a New Zealand price comparison website, has found 73 percent of computers and accessories listed on its website are unavailable in the lead up to the massive sale.

Nearly 40 percent of both audio and video goods as well as video games and consoles are also out of stock, the report said.

The COVID-19 pandemic is largely to blame for creating computer chip shortages as well as knock-on effects in shipping, causing further delivery delays.

That has forced some shoppers to change how they shop, with almost a third of those surveyed saying they are now pre-ordering more goods than they did prior to the pandemic.

Liisa Matinvesi-Bassett, New Zealand country manager for PriceSpy, said disruptions, delays and increased demand are all playing havoc with shoppers' Black Friday shopping plans.

Almost three quarters of Kiwis surveyed said they had noticed certain items have not been available to purchase from stores and supermarkets over the past year, and that same pattern is being seen online.

And nearly 60 percent said they had experienced shipping and delivery delays on items they'd bought since the global pandemic, with some reporting they'd waited months and even up to a year for items to arrive.

"The only thing we can be certain about this year is that nothing's certain," Matinvesi-Bassett said.

"COVID-19 has affected our lives in ways we could never have predicted and it's unknown what's going to happen next. The best thing to do in situations like this is prepare."

That's solid advice, given it's very unlikely those stock issues will be resolved in the short-term, she said.

"Our stock insight data reveals supply issues are affecting retailers coming into the busy Christmas-buying season.

"The stock shortage issue isn't going to go away quickly. So, if people really want to buy an item they need to be prepared to purchase it earlier than what they originally planned or they should be willing to wait for it to become available at a later date than the sale day."

But it's not all bad news, according to Matinvesi-Bassett, as there are bargains to be had; but Kiwis need to be prepared to pull the trigger quickly on the purchase.

"Given the current climate, and if there's something you really want, it may be better to buy early to allow more time for delivery - especially if the item you're after isn't stocked in New Zealand."

They also need to be careful, however, with data from the company showing 12 percent of products listed on the site get a price hike on Black Friday. This is done to make the discount appear greater than it actually is and trick customers into buying more.

PriceSpy's research showed six out of the ten most-popular products shoppers were looking to buy on Black Friday last year could have been bought for less in the months prior to the sales.