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How the Covid-19 pandemic caused a global Nintendo Switch shortage

Reuters/Pei Li
There's a reason why all the stores are sold out of the popular videogame console.
  • Amrita Khalid
By Amrita Khalid

Tech reporter

Published Last updated on

Many have turned to their Nintendo Switch to stave off boredom and isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic. But if you’re in the market for a new Switch, you’re likely to be disappointed. Much like toilet paper and yeast, there’s now a run on the popular gaming device.

The original Switch console is sold out at major online retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and GameStop. Third-party sellers on eBay, Amazon, and CraigsList are selling Switches in mint condition for as much as 50 to 100% over the retail price.

The $299 hybrid videogame console that can connect to your television or be used as a handheld device (hence the “switch” moniker) was already incredibly popular before a large fraction of the world went into quarantine. Last year was the Switch’s most successful ever, with Nintendo shipping 52.48 million units worldwide. This isn’t the first time Switch has had supply shortages, either. When it was first released in 2017, the product flew off store shelves, and desperate buyers had to resort to third-party sellers and pay a premium.

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