Unless you work in logistics, you’ve probably heard the term “supply chain” more often in the past few weeks than in your entire life.
Global supply chains are struggling to keep up with demand and capacity amid a series of disruptions, from labor shortages to port congestion. You might have already noticed longer delivery times and delays for your online orders this fall. With the peak shopping season approaching, it is clear that these issues will impact holiday retail as well.
“As these big retail brands scramble to find other manufacturing solutions, this increases their cost and delays,” Kristin McGrath, a shopping and trends specialist at RetailMeNot, told HuffPost. “The result is for consumers to buy fewer products and higher prices on available products. This becomes an even bigger problem during the holidays, when there is already such a high demand for various retail products.
So what can consumers do to make holiday shopping less miserable? Below, McGrath and other experts share their advice.
Start shopping early this year.
“Our manufacturing and shipping infrastructure is complex, so any snag has a domino effect,” McGrath said. “Shoppers need to know that last-minute purchases are not an option. And they need to think about not only shipping times, but the challenges that keep retailers from keeping stock in the first place. facing to keep.”
Indeed, it is important to start this year early. A survey by Creditcards.com found that more than half of shoppers surveyed were planning to start their 2021 holiday shopping before Halloween—the largest segment of early shoppers are parents of children under the age of 18. was the father. That’s why it’s important to prioritize specific items that you can need, especially popular toys.
“If you’ve been eyeing a TikTok trending item or toy this season, buy it now, if you see it in stock,” said shopping and retail expert Kristen Gall. Rakuten Award. “Alternatives may be available throughout the season, but if you or your loved one is set on something precise on your holiday list, it’s best not to wait.”
Be intentional and informed.
Make a plan to buy gifts this holiday season and build your shopping list quickly.
“Since shopping early can mean keeping track of what and for whom you bought by the time December arrives, use a gift tracking app like Santa’s Bag, where you can write down ideas and a per-person budget. You can track what you bought and how much you spent and get the total amount you spent in real time,” suggests money and budget expert Andrea Voroch. “This will help prevent overspending.”
Gal recommends adding items to your virtual shopping cart now, even if you’re not buying them yet.
“Not only will this help you keep track of your budget, it will give you time to think twice before pulling the trigger on an item,” she said.
Stay informed about global supply chain disruptions and what is expected to be scarce as a result.
“For example, a microchip is lacking, and it will be hard to get everything that is needed to work, including personal technology, video games, some equipment, and even new cars. ,” said Voroch.
McGrath said apparel and footwear brands such as Adidas, American Apparel, Gap and Nike have already been affected by supply chain issues. The same has been predicted for the hot toys of the holiday season.
“CEOs of companies that make and distribute popular toy brands including Little Tikes, Bratz, LOL, Fisher Price and Knex, warn about potential toy shortages and inflated prices,” she said. “This is due in large part to delays and increased shipping-related prices.”
Track deals and prices ASAP.
“Consider Black Friday and Cyber Monday as your last chance this year, rather than the start of the holiday shopping season,” advises McGrath.
“Retailers are going to start going strong with their initial sales,” he said. “Shoppers need to snap things up to build their inventory and go on sale. Walmart, Best Buy and Amazon have all announced early sales and Black Friday sales spanned several weeks. This can confuse shoppers compared to having everything focused on Black Friday. ,
To stay on top of discounts on short-supply items, consumers should sign up for retailers’ email newsletters and pay attention to announcements about holiday sales and coupons. If you’re subscribing for the first time, you can often get a discount on your first purchase.
“Shoppers are concerned about buying too quickly because they fear they’ll overpay and miss out on savings, but retailers are constantly fluctuating prices and promoting new deals and coupons,” says Voroch. he said. “So you can save ahead of Black Friday by tracking prices, setting up sales alerts, and automating coupons.”
She recommends setting up sales alerts with Amazon Assistant or Honey’s Droplist to receive notifications when something on your list drops in price. Woroch also recommended using browser tools like Cently for cash-back and coupon options this year, “to allay consumer panic over price hikes”.
“Sign up for the Paribus app, which will track the prices of recent online purchases linked to your email and request a refund in the event one of those items go on sale within a retailer’s price adjustment window. ” “You can also search for coupons by store name through sites like CouponFollow to see if there are any current deals available.”
Consider taking it to the store.
With reports of delivery delays and shortages, many online shoppers will inevitably be looking for holiday gifts at the local mall or shopping district. But Voroch said there is a better solution.
“Shopping in-store isn’t necessarily the answer to avoiding supply chain issues,” Voroch said. “That’s because you don’t know what your local retailers have in stock, and driving from store to store is a waste of time.”
Instead she recommends shopping online and opting for curbside or in-store pickup at the nearest location that has the item you want in stock.
“Even if it means going out of your way—especially for items that are already in short supply,” Voroch said. “That way it’s reserved, and that order is less likely to be canceled if you have it delivered to your home.”
When you buy something online for in-store pickup, you also have the advantage of being able to earn cash back or use coupon codes on your purchases through sites like Rakuten, Coupon Cabin and RetailMeNot. And in general, it’s a good idea to check your credit card’s reward programs to see if some stores offer bonus cash-back options.
Look beyond hot-ticket items.
“If you’re flexible on what you want to give to a loved one, there will be a lot of things to choose from later in the season, so you don’t have to panic now,” Voroch said.
While browsing online gift guides and lists of the hottest holiday items can be fun, it’s not the only way to select gifts for everyone on your list. Consider something homemade, personal or otherwise original.
Sadie Higgins, founder of personalized gift recommendation app Gleam, suggests looking for unique items from small businesses and browsing local stores.
“Small shopping at your local brick-and-mortar ensures whether or not what you’re looking for is in stock and you’re always connected face-to-face with one person,” she explained.
Additionally, it’s worth remembering that gifts don’t have to be physical objects.
“Experiences are always wonderful gift ideas,” Higgins said. “We have many of them in Gleam, and it was important that we include classes and experiences like cooking and mixing, as they often make for the best memories.”
Opt to renew or use.
It is also possible to find high quality products that make good gifts on the resale market.
“Recycled items are often overlooked, but they can be a great way to address the supply issues we’re facing this holiday season, while also saving money,” Voroch said.
“For example, last year I was planning to order an Echo Show display for some family members so we could hop on video calls more easily, but they were out of stock almost everywhere,” she said. “I realized that Amazon still has some refurbishment options available that come with a warranty, so I was able to order them and it also saved me money on about 20%.”
Voroch suggests looking for refurbished technology, appliances, electronic toys, and even power tools as a way to save money. She notes that OfferUp and the Facebook Marketplace can be good places to find popular toys.
“Just make sure you buy from a reputable retailer and you get a money-back guarantee, warranty, and if defective the item is returnable,” she said.
Remember what really matters around the holidays.
“Many people feel stressed and overwhelmed during the holidays,” Higgins said. “Yes, there is a supply chain disruption, but eventually it will all be alright. Fear of shopping should have no place during a beautiful, memorable holiday season.”
If holiday shopping starts to bother, take the time to remind yourself that it’s ultimately just stuff. Supply chain issues are not in your control, but you do have the power over how you deal with disappointment and how you get into the mood for the holiday. And so many seasonal traditions have nothing to do with gifts.
“As an adult, I can’t remember what I get For Christmas, I remember what I am Did With my family and friends,” Higgins said. “Watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ every Christmas Eve, drinking hot chocolate with a candy cane stirrer, watching the lights in the surroundings, and watching my mom and siblings Making Cookies With – That’s what I want my kids to remember someday too. Let this season be blissful no matter what. ,