Buying back-to-school technology will be a bigger challenge than normal in 2022. Supply shortages, production delays and increased demand mean parents should start their back-to-school technology shopping early this summer. Finding the right tablet, laptop and personal computer for your needs, and your price point, could be difficult.
“It’s hard and getting worse,” says John Joyce, an owner at CRS Technology Consultants. “As we exit the school year and go into summer, it’s very easy to think “Hey, we made it through another one, school is still far away, that’s a July-August problem. Really, it’s a right now problem because it’s not just about getting what you need, but getting what you’re actually looking for.”
John outlined the landscape of back-to-school technology during a May 20, 2022, Tech Talk segment on ABC7.
Below is a recap of that interview:
The Technology Shortage
The new school year begins in August for school districts, private schools and colleges across Southwest Florida. New technology is often on back-to-school shopping lists. John notes shelves at technology retailers are not completely empty, but many are picked over. He says there might be “a laptop” on the showroom floor, but not “the laptop” that you want or need.
“There is increased demand coupled with very, very low supply – the raw materials, the spare parts, things like that – they simply don’t exist,” he says.
Prior to the pandemic, factories would manufacture technology items, which then would sit on warehouse or store shelves until someone bought them.
“Now these companies are relying on ‘just in time’ manufacturing, simply meaning you place the order and that’s when they make it… possibly, if they’re not waiting on a part and that’s what puts you on a four- to 12-week waitlist,” John says.
Back-to-school Technology: What’s Available?
Parents can still find computers, laptops and tablets in stores and online. For the most part, those are the more basic models, according to John. Buyers who need specific processors or capabilities, or want a certain color or monitor size, might have to wait.
“In a world where they’ve got finite parts, they are prioritizing those parts to the machines that the majority of people are going to be buying,” John says. “The more specialized choices, those are the ones that are taking time to get and you’re paying a premium for it.”
Saving on Back-to-school Technology
John compares pricing of technology to the new automobile market.
“Two years ago, you were looking to get the best deal you could,” John says. “Today, you walk in, you’re thrilled to find the car you were looking for and actually pay what the sticker on the window is.”
Tech shoppers are in the same boat.
“Be very happy to pay MSRP, sticker,” John says. “When you can catch something on sale, that’s great – that’s a win for everyone.
Florida’s 2022 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday runs July 25 to Aug. 27. Many computers, laptops and tablets will be tax-free during that period.
“It’s not just belts and shoes that you need for school; it’s a full-blown laptop computer with a price point of $1,500 and under,” John say. “That equates to a lot of money at 6.5%.”
The tax savings, in fact, would be nearly $100. John isn’t expecting inventory levels to rise before then, but says the tax exemption applies to many other types of technology and computer accessories, including:
- Web cams
- Hard drives
- Computer cables
- Flash drives
- Ink Cartridges
- Nonrecreational software