PSA: Start Your Holiday Shopping In October to Get Your Gifts on Time

Santa shopping on his laptop.
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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 back ordered 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.

The Second Year of 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 2020, but they’re still struggling to keep up with record-breaking online sales and deliveries. In short, supply chains issues are still a problem.

Annual holiday shopping surges always lead to shipping delays, mismanaged packages, and frustrating backorders. But 2021 is unique—just like in 2020, we’re throwing extra weight on an already-strained system. Retailers like Walmart may cancel in-store Black Friday events again, Amazon is offering new ways to send gifts through its website, and people are more in tune with online shopping than ever before.

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

A photo of an Amazon shipping truck.
Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

It’s never too early to get a head start on Christmas shopping, especially during a global pandemic. Early shopping will help you avoid shipping delays, and because you’ll put less strain on the retail and shipping industries, other families will get their packages on time too.

Not only that, but retailers are intentionally spreading their big holiday sales to avoid late-December delays. Even if you just put together a simple Christmas list, you’ll be well-prepared for any sales that pop up over the coming months.

How Can I Save Money While Shopping Early?

Say goodbye to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Retailers are pivoting to online sales, which will span weeks instead of days. These sales will begin in October, 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.

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.

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is a writer for Review Geek and its sister site, How-To Geek. Like a jack-of-all-trades, he handles the writing and image editing for a mess of tech news articles, daily deals, product reviews, and complicated explainers. Read Full Bio »

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