PS5 stock hell: Walmart shoppers rush stores to find empty shelves

(Image credit: Future)

Update on Dec 7: Walmart sent Laptop Mag a vague response when asked about PS5 demand causing problems at stores. Avoid crowds and try ordering online. 

"We have seen strong demand from our customers for both the PS5 and XBox Series X, and will be restocking the items for additional release of inventory throughout the holidays."

Walmart stores are being overwhelmed by crowds of shoppers hoping to snag a PS5, only to find empty shelves. 

Videos of online shoppers confronting helpless Walmart employees have surfaced online. In one video, an employee repeatedly tells a line of customers that there is "nothing I can do at this point, nothing."

That experience was echoed by other frustrated customers on social media. 

"I went to my local Walmart st opening and lined up with 8 other people. The manager there told us that ps5s were all online only and that corporate didn't give them the okay to sell them in-store yet," one Reddit user posted.

"Walmart in Rancho Cucamonga, CA showed 6+ and in stock on both BrickSeek and Walmart app. Supervisor called the cops and told people to go home there’s no ps5 smhhh," wrote Twitter user Selimthadream.

"on Georgiville Rd in Columbus OH refusing to sell us a #PS5 when admitting they have them and won’t admit how many they have. Saying tomorrow morning at 7am. Ridiculous. @walmart," Twitter user @itsBMillerBruh posted. 

In a more personal account, my brother Tommy Tracy, arrived at Walmart in Michigan 5 minutes before opening. "I would say there were between 80 and 100 people split between the two entrances." He waited for others to enter first so he could keep his distance. 

The crowd went straight to the electronics section and formed a group, "There was one guy standing there, and he looked pretty scared," he said. The associate said the store had no PS5 consoles in stock. The people in the line refused to accept the explanation. They insisted the store had consoles in stock (based on inventory sites) and said they'd stand there and wait until they got their PlayStations. 

Eventually, a manager came out and clearly said they had no PlayStations at all, and that the six units they received on Saturday were sold out. It was only at that point when people started to disperse. 

Winning the PS5 lottery

Adding to the confusion is how some buyers successfully purchased the PS5 at Walmart stores. 

Scan Twitter and you'll find several users who claim they lined up early enough to get a PS5, "It’s a super small city. We got there at 6:30AM and were number 7&8 of 15. Store opened at 7AM," one user said in response to how early they needed to arrive at the store. 

Even luckier customers say there happened to be PS5s in stock when they entered their local Walmart, "I have the bestest friend!!! She just walked into a Walmart and they had like 15 PS5's and she grabbed me one!" one user claims.

"Finally secured my PS5 with a WalMart walk-in the truck had just arrived when I got there I was super lucky," said Twitter user @RezedentGenius.

How to buy a PS5

It's clear that inventory sites like Brickseek or Walmart's own online page aren't always accurate. Just because it says there is inventory, doesn't mean there is. The system could be inaccurate or slow to update.

Our advice? Stay inside unless you know for sure that there are consoles available. Avoid any scenario where you put yourself at risk of catching COVID-19 by breaking the recommended social distancing guidelines. Yes, buying a PS5 online is painful, and darn-near impossible, but it's the safest and, believe it or not, least stressful method.

You can follow our PS5 stock alert page and read our tips on how to purchase a PS5 online, but just know that there is no surefire method for securing the console. Sony promises to make more PS5 and PS5 Digital consoles available before the next of the year, so do your best to be patient — it's only a matter of time before you get your chance at buying one.

We have reached out to Walmart for information on its PS5 stock and will update this article if we learn more. 

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.