Be Prepared and Start Your Holiday Shopping Early
If you did any shopping last year, you’re likely already aware of some of the challenges that made the holiday season even more hectic than usual. Unfortunately, many of those same snags will plague this year’s shopping, too.
Beat the lines, the “sold out” signs, and get every item on your list by getting ahead of this year’s crowd. November marks the start of holiday shopping for many – and you should aim to be among them this year.
Plan for Delays
Retail-front closures and shops going out of business forced many customers to turn to online shopping to get their products. Some stores never quite went back to the way things were before, and many shoppers have stuck with their online shopping habits. The increase in parcels quickly overwhelmed postal services and package delays became the norm. Even retailers who, in the past, boasted one- or two-day delivery times notified customers to let them know of the shift in service.
These delays were most extreme around the holidays, where some packages ended up arriving weeks late. Avoid the rush and check out early this year – and if you find yourself needing something last-minute, check retail store shelves before depending on delivery warehouses.
Anticipate More – or Worse – Stocking Issues
Two of the biggest phrases summarizing the latter half of this year are “supply chain issues” and “staffing shortages.” Naturally, these commerce concerns will impact holiday shopping, but may also be drawn out into next year as well, as consumers follow every restock of hot-ticket items.
While some of these issues originated last year and have partially cleared up as the world transitioned back into pre-pandemic behavior, not all situations improved. In fact, many shoppers have adapted to this expected scarcity and plan to start their shopping early. Sold-out restocks and viral must-have items had many pragmatic shoppers adding to their carts before Halloween, let alone before Thanksgiving. If any of the gifts on your list are already flying off the shelves, consider a more easily accessible back up option.
Consider Gifts for Later
If these anticipated obstacles will take the joy out of the season, consider a gift that keeps on giving. Certificates and event tickets keep the excitement going past the holidays and can be sent electronically. You won’t have to worry about gifts arriving on time or running out of stock, and these are great options for those you won’t see in person this year, as they can be sent directly to the recipient’s inbox.
Look out for special gift card deals during the season, which can help you in your own shopping. Some retailers will offer a $10 gift card for every $50 card purchased, and so on.
Save Money with Free Shipping
While there have been significant changes to online shopping services, free shipping remains a driving force for where consumers spend their money. Try to take advantage of free shipping offers when available and combine orders with family and friends where possible.
Some shops offer free shipping with no minimum if you are a premium member or credit cardholder, such as Amazon, Walmart, or Target. It may be worth signing up for the season if you expect to pay more in shipping than the membership costs, but make sure to cancel before renewal if this isn’t a service you anticipate using all year.
Sign Up for Discounts in Newsletters or Apps
Many retailers will offer discounts for joining their email newsletter, downloading their mobile app, or signing up for rewards programs. If you want to keep your inbox tidy, create an additional email address specifically meant for newsletters or retailer communications. Then, when it comes time to shop, you can easily search for promo codes or flash deals.
Earn Rewards While You Shop
The average shopper anticipates spending an average of $998 this holiday season, just above last year’s estimate, according to the National Retail Federation.
Make the most of each purchase by earning reward points or cash back to give yourself something this season, too. American Heritage offers special holiday promotions for our Mastercard® credit cards that last through the holiday season. Click here to learn more and see how you can be rewarded.