After two years of supply chain and shipping nightmares, the world is starting to even out a bit. Still, we can expect shipping delays this December, and continued supply shortages will impact the availability of some gifts. In order to avoid these problems, start your holiday shopping today.
The Third Year of E-Commerce Christmas
Online retailers exploded in popularity during the 2020 and 2021 holiday seasons. For the first time in history, people bought most of their gifts, wrapping paper, and decorations online. But this trend may reverse in 2022—economists believe that in-person shopping will return to normal levels this year.
The trend toward in-person shopping should take some strain off the shipping industry. Also, retailers are setting up extra distribution centers to fulfill orders more quickly. Barring any unforeseen problems, we will see fewer shipping delays this holiday season.
We should also experience fewer product shortages, at least in some industries (chip shortages are still a thing). Retailers responded to the supply chain problems of 2020 and 2021 by placing massive product orders, which often take up to a year to fulfill. These retailers did not anticipate the economic downturn of 2022, so they currently have waaaay too much inventory.
This oversupply of product isn’t beneficial to retailers. In fact, it’s bad for the economy as a whole. On the other hand, we can expect some killer deals and discounts this holiday season. Businesses want to clear inventory, and low prices are the only answer.
So, when should you start your Christmas shopping? How early is too early, and is there any way to put less strain on the retail and shipping industries?
Start Shopping Now to Beat the Rush
It’s never too early to start Christmas shopping. That said, this is the first “normal” holiday season that we’ve experienced in two years. Shipping delays and product shortages are inevitable, but they won’t be as common as they were in 2020 or 2021.
We suggest starting your shopping before Thanksgiving, which is when the “holiday shopping spree” usually kicks off. Retailers now run Black Friday deals throughout November and December, so you have plenty of time to stock up on affordable gifts.
In fact, discounts may be the best part of early Christmas shopping. Since you aren’t in a rush to buy gifts, you can sit and wait for deals or discounts to crop up. But how do you do that?
How Can I Save Money While Shopping Early?
Say goodbye to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Retailers are pivoting to seasonal deals, which span weeks instead of days. These sales began in October, but they will continue through November and December. So, if you want to cash in on some discounts while shopping early, you’ll have to make a list of potential Christmas presents and track them online.
The simplest money-saving tool is your Amazon wishlist. Amazon will notify you every time an item on your wishlist goes on sale, which is helpful in the months leading up to Christmas. You can also use a simple browser extension like Honey to automatically apply coupons to purchases or send you notifications when something cool goes on sale.
For a more hands-on experience, sign up for a Slickdeals account and set up some automated Deal Alerts. You can program Slickdeals to email you when AirPods are on sale, or tell the website to track broad terms like “soundbar” or “headphones.” And if you just want to look at random sales every day, check out Kinja Deals, CNET, or the Slickdeals homepage. (You can also subscribe to the How-To Geek newsletter for weekly tech deals.)
Keep in mind that electronics and appliances go on sale more often than clothes, tools, or furniture. But deals aren’t everything—if you can’t find a deal for something in the weeks ahead of Christmas, you should probably just buy it at full price to avoid any last-minute shipping delays.