People have been lining up at GameStop stores all week for a chance to buy a PlayStation 5 on Black Friday — but many are walking away empty-handed

Ben Gilbert
GameStop line during the pandemic
People lined up for a copy of "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" outside an EB Games store on Yonge St., in downtown Toronto last March despite requests to self-distance and stay home. Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images
  • This year, with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continuing, Black Friday is quieter than ever.

  • One major exception is for video-game retailer GameStop, which started drawing lines on Wednesday, with the promise of PlayStation 5 consoles.

  • Customers camped out with tents, and one man brought a full-on bed frame and mattress, for the chance to buy the much-hyped new console on Friday morning.

  • But with just two PlayStation 5 consoles guaranteed per store, a lot of folks are walking away empty-handed.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

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The PlayStation 5 is the big item this holiday season, and it's sold out everywhere.

Just as soon as retailers restock the console, it swiftly sells out. It's in such high demand, and such low supply, that a robust resale market has sprung up — the PlayStation 5 sells for nearly double at resale sites like StockX and eBay.

That combination of high consumer interest and high resale value had some people lining up for days at their local GameStop for a chance to buy the console on Black Friday, November 27.

That's because GameStop guaranteed shoppers that every retail location would have a minimum of two PlayStation 5 consoles on what's typically the biggest shopping day of the year.

And the only way to guarantee getting one of those two consoles was by being among the first in line on Black Friday, which means lining up days ahead in some instances.

The first person in line at one GameStop location was said to have arrived on Wednesday afternoon:

A mother and son in Denver brought a camping set up:

With coronavirus diagnoses spiking across the US, and most major retailers pushing digital sales over physical, GameStop is a rare example of a retailer with long lines during the pandemic.

The company is only selling the PlayStation 5 on Black Friday at retail locations — not online. In some cases, customers waited in line for hours only to find out on Friday morning that the GameStop they were waiting at had just two PS5 consoles for sale.

Read more: How one reseller nabbed 200 PlayStation 5 units and made over $40,000 in sales in less than a week, as gamers scrambled to get their hands on the console

"Waited for hours in the cold at @gamestop with about 30 people just to be told 'Oh hey guys we only have 2,'" one person said. "I stood outside GameStop since 3," another person said, "an then say they only got 2 ps5 an I was #7 in [line] I'm cry." Another person reported that their GameStop had seven PlayStation 5 consoles for sale, but 200 people were in line. And several people reported that their GameStop location had just one console despite assurances that each store would have at least two for sale.

GameStop representatives did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

Got a tip? Contact Business Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@businessinsider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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