Christmas is a favorite holiday for many people. The excitement of gift giving and receiving as well as spending time with family creates holiday cheer to last all season long. However, in the hustle and bustle to choose the perfect gifts, many people get stressed during this time of year. It is important to have plenty of time to participate in Christmas activities that you enjoy rather than rushing at the last minute to buy presents. Consider these three benefits of starting your holiday shopping ahead of the crowd.
Some people love Christmas shopping, they can’t get enough of the decorations, music and people crowding the shops and malls as the big day approaches. Others dread the thought; there is nothing that these people would rather do than pick gifts out of a catalog or off a web site and have them delivered. Either way, early Christmas shopping can have benefits.
In life there are two kinds of people: those who start shopping for Christmas Dec. 26 of the previous year, and those who wait until Black Friday (or later) to even think about crossing anything off their holiday shopping list.
Many people delight in having their shopping “all done” prior to Thanksgiving. They are at peace with the idea that the gifts they will give were purchased months ago.
They sit back and laugh at the rest of us hustling around the holiday season standing in long lines to the tune of Jingle Bells and jangled nerves.
While the holiday season may seem far away, it will be here before you know it. The malls will get crowded, stores will be promoting their holiday specials, and you’ll be dodging seasonal decorations while scouring for the one item your loved one said they wanted months ago. Imagine what it would feel like if, when that time came, you were done (or almost done) with your shopping. Take a look at a few reasons why starting now could be the best decision you’ve made.
Supply chain and inventory issues
Your holiday shopping experience is likely to look different than years past. Between issues with supply chains, rising cost of goods, staffing shortages and problems filling shelves with merchandise, retailers are gearing up for a difficult few months ahead.
According to Salesforce, U.S. retailers will face an extra $223 billion in the cost of goods this shopping season. These rising costs are due to labor shortages and higher prices for shipping and manufacturing. The study suggests that retailers will bear the brunt of much of these costs, however, some of these expenses will likely be passed along to the consumer.
Deloitte suggests Americans will spend between 7-9% more than they did during last year’s holiday season, totaling $1.3 trillion. And with prices increasing in nearly every consumer category, shoppers can expect to shell out more for presents than ever before.
The semiconductor shortage continues to place a tight squeeze on the supply of electronics, while these items continue to be very in-demand. This includes everything from computers and gaming consoles, to vehicles and home appliances. And with many items on backorder for months, it’s best to start shopping for these products now to ensure they arrive before you need to exchange gifts.
There might be fewer sales (and they’ll start earlier)
Demand for holiday-related gifts and items is looking to be as high as ever. In fact, Home Depot ran out of inventory for several Halloween items — in August.
Experts are predicting fewer big sales from retailers, even on marquee shopping days like Black Friday, because of high demand and a lack of inventory. According to the Roku and Harris Poll 2021 Holiday Survey, 36% of shoppers plan on spending more this year than they did in 2020. This is the highest number reported since 2018 from the annual survey.
For retailers that do offer sales, Kristen Gall, retail and shopping expert at Rakuten Rewards, says they’ll start relatively soon. “Retailers know that if they don’t sell their inventory before or during Black Friday, they will have significantly less time to move inventory. This means that stores are more incentivized to create deals earlier to beat their competition. We’re now seeing holiday sales launch as early as October to capitalize on sales sooner.”
However, those sales will look much different than in years past, and getting the best deal will take a bit more effort. “Consumers should be flexible to take advantage of sales and will likely need to shop and watch multiple retailers,” she said.
If you aren’t able to capitalize on sales early on, you may be stuck paying higher prices due to the ongoing supply chain issues. Gall added that the incurred costs from the supply chain gridlock “will trickle down to consumers in the form of smaller sales and promotions this season, including fewer expedited and free-shipping options.”
More time means less on your credit card. Holiday gifts could rack up a price tag of hundreds of dollars. Space out gift buying over the next few months so you aren’t purchasing it all at once. Rein in the excessive spending by committing to only pay with cash or debit card. AskTheMoneyCoach.com suggests doing this so you don’t overuse credit cards and a end up with unnecessary debt.
Let’s face it, week-before-Christmas shopping is stressful for multiple reasons. There’s the panic that you won’t be able to find the perfect gift for a relative. There’s the confusion that comes from hitting 10 stores in one morning and viewing hundreds of items all at once. It becomes a trivia game to remember a product you considered at the last store and the pros and cons compared with a similar product at the current store.
Probably the most stressful part is navigating the crowds. From jam-packed parking lots to lines stretching to the end of the aisle, the massive influx of people at stores in December can be frustrating. The stress can lead to depression, anxiety, and poor decision-making.
Another way to alleviate the stress is to shop online. Online shopping is easier to track, and you’ll be able to relax in your home while browsing.
Great deals are happening now. Retailers don’t just put merchandise on sale around the holidays. Most are trying to get rid of current inventory to make way for the next season’s items. For example, items that are most commonly marked down now include outdoor gear, sunglasses and bicycles.
December is notorious for poor shipping, and it only worsens as the 25th approaches. A nightmare Christmas shopping scenario is finding the ideal present four days before the holiday and realizing that it won’t arrive in time. The other option is to break the bank paying for expedited shipping.
Even online stores that do a good job with fast shipping during the rest of the year, like Amazon Prime, struggle during Christmas mayhem. This year, do the USPS and FedEx a service by ordering at least a month in advance. You’ll also save yourself the panic attack of trying to decide on an item before the shipping deadline.
Finally, you’ll find a much better selection when you shop early. Although stores do bring in extra products for the season, you can still find what you want if you give yourself a couple of months, especially through shopping online.
Shopping early also opens up options you may not have considered. For instance, are you traveling earlier in the year? Consider bringing home a present from another state or country. These presents will be more exciting and possibly cheaper depending on where you purchase them from.
Planning early also allows to you add your own touches by making some element of the gift yourself. Your gifts will be more personal and meaningful.
This holiday season is going to be tough for many shoppers, especially for those who wait until the last minute. Because of several issues in the retail and manufacturing space, your safest bet to get the items you want, and for the best price, is to get started early.