Exact Reasons to Start Your Holiday Shopping Now

Exact Reasons to Start Your Holiday Shopping Now

Procrastinators, beware: You could be paying dearly for last-minute shopping this year.
Sure, it’s always smart to spread the financial pain and start shopping before the holidays, but this year, it just might be wiser than usual.
Here are three reasons:
Supply chain issues
What does the supply chain have to do with vacation shopping? “Our economy is still feeling the impact of COVID,” says Adriana Welch, an assistant professor at Moravia University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, who is teaching an Integrated Logistics Systems class for MBA students. “As importers and exporters begin shipping goods for the holidays, they are facing container shortages and long delays at ports.” Welch is also the Director of Government Aftersales at Curtiss-Wright Corporation, which makes products for the commercial, industrial, defense and energy industries. So it is immersed in supply chain problems every day.
Making matters worse for shoppers, Welch says, “This comes at a time when the United States is struggling to meet current logistical demands due to a shortage of drivers and trucks.”
Truck and driver shortages predated the coronavirus, but are becoming more severe as the popularity of online shopping continues to increase.
So, if you wait to do most of your holiday shopping in December, the odds are good that you’ll find a lot more empty shelves than you might expect. Not that there won’t be anything available for purchase, of course; Only some of the gifts you wish to purchase may not be available.
Shipping delay
Shipping delays stem from supply chain issues, and you need to be prepared for them. In fact, Scott Price, president of UPS International, recently told a wire service, “I half-joking tell people ‘Order Christmas presents now because otherwise on Christmas Day, there might be a picture of something that won’t come until February’ or March.”
However, retailers are still doing what they can to combat supply chain issues, says Trae Bodge, a New York City-based lifestyle journalist and shopping consultant who runs the shopping blog TrueTrae.com.
“While retailers are doing their best to switch to air freight, airports are experiencing delays as well,” she says.
Rising prices
Prices for a range of items are already up, and with supply chain issues showing no signs of abating, we’re expecting higher prices for gifts and merchandise in general. Wells expects consumers will likely pay 20% to 30% more for the same goods this year than last year and that electronics and imports will be the most expensive items.
This may sound alarming, but a look at the Global Container Index, published by Drewry’s, an independent marine research consultancy, tells the story:
In April 2021, the combined cost of shipping a 40-foot container on eight major east-west routes was just under $5,000. By September 2021, the cost was $10,083.84. (Before the pandemic, the cost was less than $2,000.)
It’s not a guarantee that you’ll save more if you do your holiday shopping now. But if you start looking for deals and buying gifts sooner rather than later, it stands to reason that you’ll likely get out more than if you cram all your holiday shopping into a few weeks at the end of the year.
So, if you’re in the right mindset to start your holiday shopping now – or soon – here are some strategies to follow:
Start building your holiday shopping list. You don’t necessarily have to go to the store tonight, but Budge says, “My advice to consumers is to start building their holiday shopping lists now. If there are very specific items—like a certain popular game or video game or a pair of shoes that’s trending on TikTok” Start looking for those items as soon as possible.”
But you can prioritize some other items that rank lower on your list.
“For more general items, such as scented candles, blankets, fun items, or crafts, you can wait a bit,” Bodge says. “Start looking for deals on Black Friday, Internet Monday, and into December as you normally would.”
Be realistic about your budget. Your personal vacation budget should reflect your financial reality, says Chance Robinson, president of Strong Point Financial, a financial services firm in Orlando, Florida.
“Regardless of goodwill, our desires cannot be confused with our capacity for unbridled spending,” Robinson says.
Of course, we all know we shouldn’t overspend during the holidays, and many of us do anyway. However, we have been warned.

If you plan to use a credit card, count the numbers first. Robinson stresses using credit cards “in a very measured way.” “Before you withdraw that little plastic card, make sure you know the interest rate your bank charges you to fund the outstanding balances. Sure, you will be able to pay it back later and in monthly payments, but you will have to pay at once.”
And of course, many people pay their credit cards every month. If you have a cashback credit card, you may end up fine. You may also want to apply for a new credit card that offers a 0% introductory period, after which you may be able to get six to 12 months up to 18 months to pay off vacation debt. However, if you need 18 months to pay off vacation debt, you’re probably seriously overspending.
As always, look for deals. You might think you’d pay more if you shop before the Black Friday sale, but that’s not necessarily the case, says Budge.
“Just because you’re buying early doesn’t mean you have to pay full price,” she says.
She suggests reviewing some of the shopping apps, browser extensions, and websites, including:
Slickdeals.net. Set deal alerts using this site for specific items on your gift list. “This way, you’ll be notified when this item goes on sale,” Bodge says.
Sentley. This is a browser extension from CouponFollow.com, says Budge. “Once installed, Cently will alert you to available savings as you browse and even find and apply coupons at checkout,” she says.
CouponCabin.com. If you’re shopping in-store, Bodge says a cashback app like CouponCabin can help you earn cash from participating retailers. “The CouponCabin app also has coupons that can be scanned at checkout,” she says.
Look on the bright side. Suddenly having to think about holiday shopping can seem a bit stressful, but you could end up reducing a lot of your end-of-year stress by starting shopping now. As Bodge says, “Just think: The beauty of shopping early is that you can spread out your monthly financial expenses and you can avoid holiday crowds.”