Even with lockdowns, fewer parties and reduced travel, the National Retail Federation reports that in 2020, Americans spent $209 billion on holiday-related purchases — averaging about $998 per person.1
If it seems a bit early to be talking about holiday shopping, consider that you may want to shop earlier than ever this year. That’s because the combination of periodic COVID-related shutdowns and the bizarre logjam at the Suez Canal this spring continues to affect shipping ports around the world. In fact, industry experts say shipping disruptions could result in a shortage of goods this holiday season. However, a key reason shipments may be slow this year is that many retailers have already placed their orders for the holiday season, which is exacerbating traffic and congestion problems in the shipping industry.2
Manufacturers have been warned to develop alternative solutions for their supply chains and sales strategies to deal with lack of inventory when the holidays roll around. Given that demand will be high and supplies low, this will likely include raising prices of goods. Many customers may feel that certain items are not worth the higher price and will go looking for alternatives. Retailers should bear this in mind and have less expensive and off-brand options available.3
To help ensure you don’t overspend this year, you may be able to find certain gift items now at more affordable prices before they are priced higher or unavailable altogether by the end of the year. Ask family members to consider these factors when compiling their list of wants, perhaps including alternative items and goods made in the U.S. that are unlikely to experience shipping delays. Don’t forget to support local businesses and artisans for their current inventory, and consider supporting artists, crafters and vintage retailers nationwide at online shops such as Etsy.com. You may end up spending less than usual this holiday season by following these strategies.
Also, consider helping cash-strapped adults on your list by offering to pay for regular insurance policies – such as their homeowners or auto insurance. That’s a generous surprise to find in one’s stocking.
Then again, don’t forget the usual holiday shopping strategies, such as buying seasonal items when they tend to go on sale. Here are a few examples:4
- August – Summer clothing and swimwear, school supplies and laptops; take advantage of “tax-free weekends” that many states host in August, which waive sales taxes on clothing, school supplies and even electronics.
- September – Outdoor furniture and grills, leftovers from back-to-school sales, appliances and mattresses.
- October – Older model iPhones and winter clothing.
Several national retailers, including Best Buy, Walmart and Target, have already announced that their stories will be closed on Thanksgiving Day — reversing previous trends to get Black Friday sales started earlier. In fact, the pandemic morphed many shoppers from in-store to online enthusiasts, so don’t be surprised to see website inventories reduced more quickly as well.5
Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.
1 Emily VanSchmus. Yahoo. June 16, 2021. “7 Budgeting Tips to Help You Save Money at the Holidays.” https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/7-budgeting-tips-help-save-233507890.html. Accessed June 16, 2021.
2 Kate Duffy. Business Insider. June 14, 2021. “A COVID-19 outbreak at a major Chinese port is worsening the global shipping crisis, which could disrupt orders for the holiday season, experts say.” https://www.businessinsider.com/shipping-delay-crisis-holiday-christmas-thanksgiving-orders-covid-suez-canal-2021-6. Accessed June 16, 2021.
3 John LeBaron. DigitalCommerce360. May 18, 2021. “Why now is the time to prepare for the 2021 holiday season.” https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2021/05/18/why-now-is-the-time-to-prepare-for-the-2021-holiday-season/. Accessed June 16, 2021.
4 Kristin McGrath. US News & World Report. Jan. 11, 2021. “The Best Days to Shop in 2021.” https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/shopping-holidays-the-best-days-to-shop-this-year. Accessed June 16, 2021.
5 Melissa Repko. CNBC. June 9, 2021. “Best Buy says stores will close Thanksgiving Day, to offer Black Friday deals online.” https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/09/holiday-2021-best-buy-closed-on-thanksgiving-day-black-friday-deals-online.html. Accessed June 16, 2021.
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