Strip sale

This Christmas, head to Gaza for PlayStation 5

The newest gaming console from Sony is immensely popular, and, due to supply chain issues, increasingly hard to get. But in the coastal enclave, it often stays on the shelf

People stand online next to the PlayStation booth at the 24th Electronic Entertainment Expo E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 14, 2018. Sony said on September 16, 2020, that its upcoming PlayStation 5 video game console would cost $500 and launch November 12. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
People stand online next to the PlayStation booth at the 24th Electronic Entertainment Expo E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 14, 2018. Sony said on September 16, 2020, that its upcoming PlayStation 5 video game console would cost $500 and launch November 12. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

PlayStation 5, the much sought-after video game console, has proven elusive for many American shoppers, due to high demand and supply-chain issues. But if you are really desperate to put one under the tree this Christmas, there is one place you can find them: Gaza.

According to a report in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, the Sony console has been a difficult sell in the poverty-stricken enclave, leaving some stores with excess stock.

With the average monthly wage in Gaza being roughly $207, according to the Israeli human rights organization, Gisha, a new PlayStation 5 (which goes for nearly $500 in the United States) is often well beyond the means of most Gazans.

More than half of Gaza’s population lives under the poverty line, according to statistics from the World Bank, and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has pegged the unemployment rate at 43.1 percent.

On top of that, prices for the PS5 in Gaza are often inflated, due to the difficulty of importing electronics into the territory. The consoles can often go for more than $1,000 now, and they cost north of $1,500 when they first came out.

To bypass the blockade that Israel maintains over Gaza, the first batch of PS5s to arrive were smuggled in, originating in Dubai, disassembled into parts, taken in through Egypt, and then reassembled. Now, Gazans can obtain PS5s through Israeli sources, although there is usually a premium attached.

But even with all the effort to get PS5s to the Gaza Strip, when they do get there, they often do not get snatched up right away. “There is no great demand for the devices in Gaza because their prices are still high,” Hassan al-Baik, who runs an electronics store in Gaza, told The Guardian.

Al-Baik said that he has five consoles, but has had difficulty unloading them. Another retailer told the outlet that their shop sold only three to five PS5s a month.

The hassle and complexity of finding a market for the console would seem strange in many Western countries, where demand is often very high and supply very low.

A worldwide shortage of semiconductors has made it more difficult to produce enough PlayStations to keep up with demand.

Furthermore, the supply of the gaming console has been made somewhat artificially scarce by Sony, which “drip-feeds” consoles over time, rather than ramping up production in an attempt to keep up with soaring demand. This method keeps demand going strong for months, if not years, and keeps the product more relevant for longer.

Meanwhile, in the United States, customers are having problems obtaining the PS5s. “I just don’t know where to get one,” said one shopper, Kathleen Webber, who promised her son that she would obtain one for him.

“It’s like the Tickle-Me Elmos.”

AP contributed to this report.

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