So you want that PS3? Good luck

Chances of getting the hottest gaming console of the season are slim, but don't give up hope yet.

By Grace Wong, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- A shortage of the Playstation 3 has shoppers scrambling this holiday season.

Sony's (Charts) highly hyped gaming console was barely on shelves before selling out when it made its debut earlier this month.

Sony's PS3 is one of the holiday season's most sought after items.

Retailers say they're receiving shipments of the PS3 throughout the season, but with demand so strong, they expect fresh shipments to sell like like hot-cakes.

Getting one of the consoles may be tricky, but gamers - and their parents - shouldn't give up hope altogether.

The persistent shopper

Keep your finger on redial because calling your local store is the best bet for finding out when retailers expect to receive their next shipment. Even if they don't know, it doesn't hurt to ask, retailers say.

"Our best advice is to keep checking back with local stores," Circuit City (Charts) spokeswoman Jackie Forman said. The chain makes new supplies available to shoppers as they're received.

Best Buy (Charts), the nation's largest consumer electronics store, offered similar advice. Shoppers should call their local stores regularly to inquire about when units could be arriving, spokesman Jay Musolf said.

The enterprising shopper

Shoppers could have better luck with more niche stores in their areas that might not be promoting hot items, said Ellen Davis, spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation.

"They may not be having a special sale - and shoppers probably will have to pay regular price - but they could have it in stock," she said.

If it's just any gaming device shoppers are after, there are alternatives to the PS3, like Nintendo's Wii and the Xbox 360 from Microsoft (Charts).

The Wii has also been selling out, but it has been easier to find than the PS3. Nintendo said it will ship 4 million units worldwide before the end of the year, although it hasn't specified how many of those units are destined for the U.S.

When money is no object

The Sony PS3 is the most popular tech toy on eBay (Charts), but prices are as red hot as the Playstations themselves.

At last check, the 20 GB PS3 was selling on eBay for about $650 while the 60 GB version was going for around $900 - or about a 30 to 50 percent mark-up from the retail price.

This year eBay has taken measures to quell the frenzy that surrounds hot items like the PS3, said Rob Chesnut, the company's senior vice president of trust and safety.

For instance, all sellers must include a copy the receipt from where they bought the item as well as a picture of the console to show potential buyers they really have the item.

Still, shoppers need to use common sense when they buy online, Chesnut said. "If the deal's too good to be true, it probably is," he said.

The savvy shopper

A little patience goes a long way when it comes to the season's must-have items.

The PS3 is on everyone's wish lists right now, but in the next few months demand for the merchandise will wane, the NRF's Davis said.

That means if shoppers are willing to wait, they're more likely to find these items in stock regularly at stores - without having to deal with the holiday madness.

Shoppers hold out for better bargains Top of page

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