The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on supply chains, manufacturing processes, and shipping companies. And heading into the holiday season, things aren’t going to get any better. You should expect an influx of backordered items and delayed shipping at the very least. In order to avoid the worst of it, you should start your holiday shopping as early as you can.
Baby’s First E-Commerce Christmas!
In the words of Adobe Digital Insights Manager Vivek Pandya; COVID-19 accelerated e-commerce growth by “4 to 6 years.” Retail and shipping industries may have overcome the month-long shipping delays of March and April, but they’re still struggling to keep up with record-breaking online sales and deliveries.
Annual holiday shopping surges always lead to shipping delays, mismanaged packages, and frustrating backorders. But this year is unique, as we’re throwing extra weight on an already-strained system. People are afraid to shop in-store, major retailers like Walmart are canceling in-store Black Friday events, and social distancing could encourage families to send more letters and packages than usual.
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 in September to Beat the Rush
It’s never too early to start your Christmas shopping, especially during a global pandemic. If you have the luxury to start shopping before the second round of stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits, then put a Christmas list together ASAP. You might miss a sale on toys or electronics, but you won’t have to pay for rushed shipping or hunt down backordered game consoles. (Remember, the new PlayStation and Xbox launch this Fall).
Shopping early will also take some stress off the retail and shipping industries and help other families get their packages earlier. Remember, some families can’t shop for Christmas presents until the Senate renews its enhanced unemployment benefits plan, which could take a while (especially because they can’t seem to agree on anything at this point).
How Can I Save Money While Shopping Early?
Say goodbye to Black Friday. Retailers are pivoting to online sales, which will span weeks instead of days. But they aren’t going to push Black Friday sales back to September! 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 simple browser extensions like Wikibuy or 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 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.
Keep in mind that electronics and appliances go on sale more often than clothes, tools, or furniture. Some deals may not be worth waiting for, especially if waiting for a sale puts you at risk of shipping delays or back-orders .