This year’s holiday shopping will be anything but regular. Supply chain problems, inflation, and stock availability will all combine to provide a unique experience for 2021. Given all these, should you shop early or later?
Should you shop online or go out? What should you buy and which items should you avoid? Here’s what you should know before making that first purchase.
This Early, Shelves Are Going Empty
Beginning this October, many shoppers are already reporting empty store shelves in their favorite stores. Like you, retailers are waiting for their products to arrive. A gridlock on ports is keeping container ships docked but unable to unload their cargo.
What causes the delays? A shutdown in one port (mainly due to COVID-19) creates a domino effect in loading, shipping, and unloading cargo.
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Remember the Suez Canal incident where a huge freighter ran aground? The delays stretched cargo deliveries from days to weeks. Imagine the same thing now with ports and factories reporting delays because of shutdowns.
Another reason is the general lack of workers currently plaguing the world. The Great Resignation led 4.3 million Americans to quit their jobs in August alone.
Many of them come from the retail and warehouse sectors. Since last year, truck drivers are already in short supply. Unfortunately, demand remains on the rise despite the higher prices brought by more expensive raw materials.
Should I Start Shopping This Early?
If you’re looking for specific gift items, start buying now. The shipping crisis currently engulfing the entire world means delays in the delivery of many items.
This means the possibility of stores replenishing their in-demand products is lesser this year. It’s likely that many shoppers are already claiming items that are still in transit.
Gooten chief marketing officer Mark Kapczynski said that consumers should plan to get their shopping done well ahead of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday window. That is if they want their gifts to arrive on time.
The holiday shopping season has been starting earlier and earlier since 2014. Marshall Cohen, the chief retail industry adviser for the NPD Group, said more than half of Americans plan to shop early.
These early shoppers are getting dibs on popular items such as consumer electronics, clothes, and even gift cards. If you want to get some of those items, you’ll definitely don’t need to wait for the holiday rush.
Should I Increase My Shopping Budget This Year?
If you have the means, by all means, increase your shopping budget. Today’s inflation made sure you can buy the same amount of goods using more money.
With the current supply chain problems, it’s a certainty you’ll need to pay more for the same items. In fact, cloud services company Salesforce forecasts that US retailers will spend an additional $223 billion in costs this holiday season.
Steve Pasierb, president, and chief executive of the Toy Association, said that shipping container costs increased between 500-800% this year.
Manufacturers and retailers will be more than glad to pass on the costs to shoppers like you. “We are seeing price increases at the manufacturer and retailer levels because every step in the transportation system is costing companies so much more,” Pasierb said.
Should I Shop Online Instead?
Since last year, online shopping is becoming a way of life across the American landscape. In fact, the Commerce Department reported that online retail sales surpassed $791 billion in 2020, a 32% increase from the year before. This year should be a continuation of that trend.
In fact, many shoppers are planning to stick with online shopping. Just be wary of the challenges that come with it. “As consumers turn to buy online, it is vitally important they do their homework, carefully scrutinize listings, and buy only from reputable sources,” Pasierb said.
“Unfortunately, the e-commerce space is where counterfeiters and rogue sellers are passing off cheap, non-compliant, and sometimes unsafe products. If it seems like too good of a deal, it probably is,” he warned.
While gifts are a good way to show your gratitude and generosity, you’ll need to exercise prudence in preparing for the holidays. Realizing that this year is different is a good head start.
Watch the TODAY video reporting that Holiday Shoppers Brace For Global Supply Shortages:
Do you plan to shop earlier this year? Is your budget larger, smaller, or the same this year?
Let us know what you think about holiday shopping. Share your holiday shopping tips here as well.