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Supply and Demand

December 11, 2007

No, not another post about water! For those interested, the water came back on the following day. So, in all likelihood it was some unplanned maintenance rather than us being cut off for not paying the water bill. But since the water bill still hasn’t been paid (and some of it goes back as far as August) you may see more posts on this in the coming weeks.

So, back to supply and demand. Sometimes we sometimes read the UK news with a little bafflement. Right now one of the big stories appears to be the annual rumpus regarding the must-have toy this Christmas. For 2007 that, apparently, is the Nintendo Wii.

For those who have never heard of them the pronounciation you are looking for is We. The Wii is a games console, made by Nintendo and this year demand in the UK has exceeded supply so much that Nintendo considered canceling all advertising. Whole websites are devoted to searching online retailers, minute by minute, to track down elusive stocks. Discussion are ranging in online communities such as The Motley Fool and MoneySavingExpert about how to get hold of a Wii. Is is worth flying to the US or taking the Chunnel across to France in the hopes of picking one up there? On eBay Wiis are selling in crazy volumes, and sometimes crazy prices.

So, if Wiis are in such short supply that people are considering trading in their first-born child for one why are we baffled? Well, because had we not read these news stories and seen the online discussions here in Cyprus we wouldn’t know there was a shortage. Why not? Well, ‘cos there are plenty on the shelves, obviously! The electrical concession in one of our local supermarkets has three on display. When we asked if they were displaying empty boxes the staff were a little bemused.

No, they are full. Why? We have more in the storeroom if you want more than one and we will get more supplies next week

The price? £169CYP (£206GBP) against a UK recommended retail price of £178GBP.

A trip to Nicosia ended up with us wandering through a newly built mall. The electrical store there had a stack of about nine on the stock floor. This time we didn’t even bother to ask if they were real. Apparently there’s no shortage in Cyprus.

Today we dropped into our regular supermarket to pick up a loaf of bread and a gas bottle. Yes, shopping can be a little different here! While we were paying we spotted another little stack of Wiis. And they were on sale, reduced down to £155CYP.

We can only assume that Nintendo didn’t fully understand their market. Here, home computing is not that common. Less than 10% of homes have a computer so perhaps home gaming is even less usual. The result is that while the UK seems to be getting tied in knots over whether little Jonny will get his Wii for Christmas, here they are being put on sale as there is no interest.

Strange times!

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