Retailers are Urging Customers to Start Holiday Shopping Now

Avoid shipping delays and product shortages!

November 17, 2020

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Woman using credit card to shop online, close up


Woman using credit card to shop online, close up

Photo by: Emilija Manevska/Getty

Emilija Manevska/Getty

Feeling frenzied about holiday shopping? It's not just you. Just a few months ago, it was difficult to find hand sanitizer and toilet paper at the grocery store, and, now that the holidays are here, we're hearing that it might be difficult to get your hands-on prized holiday gifts.

What Is a “Shopocalypse”?

Though it seems like supermarkets are back to being well-stocked, consumers should be aware of potential supply shortages going into this holiday season. Kristen Gall, president of Rakuten (a cash-back shopping site), has predicted that, "We might see a 'shopocalypse' hitting any day now." Not only is there a surge in online shopping during an already busy season, but she believes this frenzy will stem from retailers cutting inventory, COVID-related shipping slowdowns and delivery companies already working at maximum capacity. Plus, with so many people spending more time at home, the desire for new cooking gadgets might be more prevalent — we won't be surprised if Instant Pots fly off the shelves even faster than usual!

How Retailers and Customers Can Prepare

According to Kristen, "People should start their holiday shopping earlier this year to get ahead of potential shipping delays and the uncertainties of retail store closures." Many large stores are planning to be closed on Thanksgiving this year and are instead pushing inventory ahead of time to cut back on crowds. "This means deals all season long as retailers will be spreading out their sales … rather than forcing them into a single weekend."

For most people, though, the plan to shop early is already on their radar. According to a survey conducted by RetailMeNot, 75% of polled shoppers prefer to complete all holiday shopping as early as possible, and about 50 to 56% are concerned about receiving orders in time or that inventory being out of stock. For these reasons, that survey also found that about half of retailers are planning to spend more on inventory preparation and encourage their shoppers to snag their holiday gifts as early as possible.

Even if the product you want doesn’t have a Black Friday-worthy deal right now, you might want to buy it anyway. Many retailers (including Target!) offer price adjustments, so if it goes on sale later, you can get a refund for the difference — just keep your receipt.

Kristen also notes that since the holiday season is shorter this year, "Retailers know that if they don't sell their inventory during Black Friday, they will have significantly less time to sell. This means that stores are more incentivized to create deals earlier in November to beat their competition." The bottom line? You'll get Black Friday-worthy deals all month long — no need to wait and risk running out of inventory.

The Impact on Local Businesses

COVID-19 has affected more than just shopping this year — business owners are dealing with difficult situations in terms of producing inventory. Chocolatier Jonathan Grahm, owner of Compartés, said that though online sales have been strong, ingredients and packaging have been more difficult to get this year.

"We source fresh ingredients from local LA spots (bakeries, donut shops, farmer's markets). Since the pandemic, the local bakery that we typically get our brownies and birthday cake from has closed, so I've begun making [my own] in my home kitchen at night. It's been difficult to source organic, fresh fruit from our usual suppliers, so I'll visit the farmer's market on weekends and include whatever fruit is in season in the California Berries bar."

As you holiday shop this season, remember that 2020 has been challenging for everyone, from artisanal business owners to customer service workers. You can do your part by shopping early and shopping small whenever possible.

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