The holiday season is kicking off earlier than ever; we’ve seen holiday decor displayed since early September! And that means: get holiday shopping started early.
“Certain items will be in high demand and low supply because of factory shutdowns that have backed up manufacturing of popular consumer goods,” says Andrea Woroch, a money-saving expert. “Plus, overwhelmed ports and trucking shortages have further contributed to the supply chain disruptions and caused major shipping delays which are sure to get even worse as the holidays get closer.”
But before you panic and go on all out shopping spree, consider how to prep your budget and craft a smart shopping plan. Woroch breaks it down for us.
Set and track your holiday budget
“One of the biggest issues shoppers run into during the holiday season is the potential of overspending thanks to the endless sales that are hard to resist. However, having a detailed holiday gift budget and tracking your shopping list can help you avoid this pitfall. Jot down a list of loved ones you would like to buy a gift for along with a gift idea and approximate budget. You can also use apps like Santa’s Bag which helps you track what you’ve bought and how much you’ve spent per person.”
Know what to buy early
“If you are wondering whether to jump on the bandwagon and get a head start on your holiday shopping, consider which items are expected to be in low supply and focus on buying these specific goods now.”
- ELECTRONICS: “Given there’s a microchip shortage, anything that requires a computer chip will be in lower supply this holiday season including laptops, tablets, smartphones, TVs and video game consoles so don’t wait to long to purchase a coveted item in this category.”
- TOYS: “Hot holiday toys from LEGO sets to L.O.L. Surprise Dolls and Hatchimals to Star Wars, parents are already scooping up popular toys so you don’t want to miss out by waiting. Just make sure you watch prices as they’re expected to jump 5 to 10% this season.”
- CHRISTMAS DECOR: “While you’re shopping for spooky Halloween decorations and costumes, add Christmas trees and lights to your list. Big box home improvement stores like Lowes have been experiencing high demand for seasonal merchandise, having sold out of patio furniture before summer and Halloween items before September. So expect a similar trend with outdoor holiday inflatables, outdoor lights and other seasonal decorations.”
- APPLIANCES: “Major household appliances have been in high demand and low supply since the start of the pandemic. So if there’s a new refrigerator or dishwasher you were hoping to scoop up for your holiday gatherings, start searching now and scope out what your local appliance retailer has in stock to avoid order delays. Even small kitchen appliances like Air Fryers, Nespresso machines and Instant pots which are always popular gifts may also be impacting by supply chain disruptions.”
Stay local and choose curbside pickup
“Your best bet for scoring any holiday gift this year is to shop at local retailers and buy in person. This gives you the opportunity to see what’s in stock and not worry about whether the item will arrive in time for the holiday. This doesn’t mean you have to give up the convenience of shopping online though. You can still choose the curbside pick up option to get the gift the same day, even if it means driving a little further of a distance to a store that it’s a neighboring town.
Keep in mind, many online retailers fulfill online orders from local stores and inventory isn’t always up-to-date which means your gift could get cancelled if an inshore shopping scoops it up before they had a chance to ship it out. Choosing in-store pick up is always the smartest option to get your hands on any popular good, especially when it says low stock.”
Stagger free shipping trials
“There are a bunch of different shipping programs that offer speedy 2-0day delivery now and many of these options offer free trials so you could essential stagger them to benefit from free rush shipping without the cost. For example, you can get a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, a free 30-day trial of ShopRunner that partners with top stores across the country, a free 15-day trial of Walmart + and a free 15-day trial of Shipt that works with Target and other retailers. Time it a right and you could benefit from free 2-day and rush shipping services throughout the holiday without actually having to pay for the services. Just make sure to cancel before the trial expires (and set a calendar reminder to do so!).”
Automate savings and track prices
“If you’re planning to buy a few gifts ahead of Black Friday, you may be worried about overpaying and missing out on better deals during the popular sales event. However, there are plenty of early-bird holiday deals to take advantage of. The trick comes down to knowing who has what at the best price. Since it can take up a lot of time tracking down deals yourself, employing a few browser tools can take the legwork out of saving on gifts.
For instance, you can track prices by adding items to Amazon Assistant to get notifications when something on your list goes on sale. And never assume the same price is the best price, browser tools like Cently will automatically search for coupon codes when they detect an empty coupon code box at check, applying the deal with the biggest discount to your online cart. You can also search for coupons by store name through sites like CouponFollow.com to find a deal quickly. Meanwhile, PriceBlinkprovides instant price comparison so you find the cheapest buying option quickly and Paribus tracks your recent purchases and requests money back when they detect a price drop or sale.”
Keep an eye on store policies that can help you save. For instance, Target just released their new Holiday Price Match Guarantee which says any item purchased from their store starting Oct. 10 qualifies for a price adjustment in the event the Target price drops before or on Dec. 24.”
Don’t dismiss refurbished options
“Whether you’re shopping for a personal gadget, kitchen appliance or power tool, consider looking at refurbished options to slash spending. In some cases, retailers have to sell items that were open but never used as refurbished, while others have repaired a minor issue and restored the item to like-new with savings ranging from 20 to 60% depending on the model and store. Just make sure you get a warranty and buy from a reputable retailer like Best Buy, Walmart or Apple.”
Plan for backups and be flexible
“If you have a few hot holiday items on your shopping list, consider a couple backup options just in case these items don’t arrive in time for the holiday. This ensures you still have something to give without the panic of last-minute buying which inevitably causes you to go over budget. If you’re flexible on what you want to give as gifts, you don’t necessarily have to shop early. There will be plenty of merchandise and sales on various gifts later in the season.”