“Consumers plan to spend $997.73 on gifts, holiday items and other non-gift purchases for themselves and their families this year, according to the annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. While planned spending is similar to last year, one big difference is how early people plan to get started: “Half (49%) of holiday shoppers will start browsing and buying before November, up from 42% in 2020 and the highest in the survey's history.”
By now, you’ve probably heard that December is expected to be a challenging month for retailers and their customers. In this article, we’ll look at why, plus offer tips for getting an early head start on your holiday shopping.
Why is it important to shop early for the 2021 holiday season?
To understand why shopping early is important this year, let’s look at the three biggest challenges facing retailers and holiday shoppers.
Global Supply Chain Woes
"While retailers and their suppliers are working together to ensure that customers can get what they need, there are some bottlenecks that cannot be avoided, like a lack of available drivers and a shortage of labor at distribution centers," according to Scott Grawe, Chair of the Department of Supply Chain Management at Iowa State University.
The limited availability of container vessels, which are truck-size cargo ships that move goods between continents, has made it harder for retailers to manage inventory. Some of the largest retailers are even chartering their own container ships to get the products they need. And the White House recently announced an agreement with the port of Los Angeles, the busiest port in North America, to operate 24/7 in an effort to reduce the logjam of unloaded goods.
Factory closures and restrictions during the pandemic have resulted in inventory shortages that are taking effect now and could last for months. This includes the semiconductor shortage affecting everything from car manufacturing to electronics like laptops and the PlayStation® 5.
The United States Postal Service and shipping companies like FedEx are in a perfect storm right now. With increased time-in-transit for mail traveling long distances, as well as staffing shortages across the shipping and logistics industry, it’s best to order or send packages as soon as possible to ensure delivery by Christmas.
Holiday Sales That Start Earlier
In response to supply chain and shipping challenges, retailers are launching holiday sales earlier this year instead of waiting until Thanksgiving weekend. There will also likely be fewer sales overall, especially as the calendar gets closer to Christmas. So keep your eyes out for the items on your list and grab something now if you see it on sale.
How To Make The Best Of The 2021 Holiday Shopping Season
Just because this year’s holiday shopping is expected to be challenging doesn’t mean it has to be painful. Follow these steps to get the most out of your 2021 holiday season.
Make a List and Check it Twice
Take time out of your schedule now and you can save yourself stress later on by making a list of everyone you'll be buying for and what you'll get for them. You might need to come up with a list of substitute gifts for some of the folks on your list if inventory is sparse. Research prices at different retailers and place your orders as soon as you can. There may not be time for last-minute gift-giving in 2021, so it's best to be prepared.
Review Shipping Deadlines
If you usually mail gifts to loved ones across the country, review the USPS, UPS, and FedEx shipping deadlines for 2021. The sooner you finish your shopping, the sooner you can ship the gifts ahead of the deadlines. It’s best to leave yourself some cushion and not go right up to the cutoff date.
- USPS 2021 Holiday Shipping Dates for the Contiguous U.S.
- UPS 2021 Holiday Season Recommended Last Days to Ship
- FedEx 2021 Shipping deadlines for holiday packages
Continue to Shop Safely
Whether you're shopping in-store or online, maintain safe shopping practices. Shopping in-store will at least allow you to circumvent shipping issues. If you're online, be on the lookout for scam offers; if a price on a popular item seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of spam emails as well.
Gift Cards Never Go Out of Style
When all else fails, the people on your list will be happy to receive a gift card from their favorite store or spa, as well as cold hard cash in the form of a Peoples Bank prepaid VISA gift card. Skip the traffic, crowded stores, and shipping delays. Best of all, the recipient can pick out something they really want.
Peoples Bank is here to help you with holiday shopping!
For more holiday shopping and budgeting tips, check out our articles on “7 Tips For Saving Money & Staying Safe During Holiday Shopping” and “Set Goals To Get Your Post-Holiday Budget Back On Track.” From our Fraud Center alert system to protect you from unauthorized use of your Peoples Bank Mastercard® Debit Card to our My Money Manager tool for easier budgeting and smarter spending, Peoples Bank is proud to offer you modern banking services for the holiday season and beyond! Contact us to learn more about any of our products and services or to open a new account.