Sealed Product Shortage
Investors, collectors, sellers and anyone who plays the Pokémon Trading Card game will know that at present it is nearly impossible to find any sealed product. No sooner than products hit the shelves, they are gone. New products are selling out before they reach distributers and prices are climbing way above the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. The only places where products can be found are on third party sites such as Amazon and Ebay.
In November 2020, a Darkness Ablaze booster box could be purchased for around £100. Today, 24th February 2021, the cheapest available on Ebay was £195. It is interesting to note that while sealed product prices have risen, single card prices have not risen significantly and in some cases have fallen. In December 2020 A Charizard VMax 020/189 sold for around £110. Today the average price on Ebay is £80.
Why is there a shortage?
There are a number of reasons for the shortage:
- The Covid 19 pandemic has seen people unable to work due to lockdowns. With more free time some people have decided that building a Pokémon collection is a good way to pass the time and hopefully build a complete collection that could be worth a lot of money.
- Interest rates are currently at an all-time low and there is very little return on savings. Investors have seen Pokémon cards as a good investment opportunity and have bought cards with the hopes of getting a good return on their investment.
- There has been a lot of media coverage about the vast sums of money that can be earned from just a single Pokémon card. In October 2020, Logan Paul attracted a lot of attention after he spent $200,000 on a first edition Booster Box which he opened on his YouTube channel and pulled a very rare card.
- 2021 marks the 25th anniversary of the Trading Card Game and Pokémon are producing a number of special collectible products which will increase in value over time.
Why has this affected sealed product prices?
While some collectors and investors will purchase sealed products, most are more likely to purchase the single cards that they feel will increase in value over time. If this group purchase sealed product they are not likely to purchase in such high quantities as to clear the shelves.
More people collecting Pokémon cards has led to an increased demand for cards. Where there is an increased demand the price will rise. Where there is a limited supply the price will rise further. However, as noted above it is the price of sealed product that has risen significantly not single cards.
In the Autumn of 2020 there was a lot of media coverage regarding the vast sums of money that could be made from selling Pokémon cards. With booster boxes costing around £100 and a chance of pulling a rare card that would sell for £100, it seemed too good to be true. By Christmas 2020 the number of people selling cards on Ebay had increased significantly and it is the demand of these smaller sellers that has led to product selling out before it reaches suppliers.
How Much is Too Much?
There has to be a point where the price of a sealed product makes it impossible to make a profit selling single cards.
A sealed booster box holds 36 booster packs. Out of those 36 packs, a maximum of 15 will have either an art card or a holographic card. Of those, a maximum of 8 packs will have art cards and out of that 8, only 3 or 4 will be full art or secret rare cards. In the Darkness Ablaze expansion set there are a total of 13 full art cards, 7 Secret Rare Rainbow cards and 5 Gold Secret Rare Cards.
Apart from the Charizard VMax which currently sells for £80, the other full art cards range between £5 and £15. The Secret Rare Rainbow cards sell for between £12 and £30, while the Gold Secret Rare cards sell for between £10 and £40. Half art, rare and reverse holo cards fetch much lower prices – 60p – £4.
Looking at these selling prices it is clear to see that getting a return on a booster box costing £196 is virtually impossible.
It is difficult to predict what may happen for the rest of this year and beyond. Pokémon released a statement earlier this month stating, rather vaguely, that there would be more product. However, it should be remembered that it is in Pokémon’s interest to maintain a strong demand – when product sells out it guarantees a good cash flow. However, if sealed product prices remain this high it may discourage Pokémon’s loyal collectors and gamers from continuing.
One thing that may happen is that people new to selling will realise that selling Pokémon cards is not a get rich quick scheme. They will decide to give up and sell off their stock flooding the market with cards and lowering prices drastically.
Whatever happens it is sure to be an interesting year.