By COURTNEY JESPERSEN of NerdWallet
Lags in the supply chain. Sold out goods. Empty shelves. Heavy shipping costs. Inflation. There are many complications working against you this Christmas shopping season.
And despite warnings to shop early due to pandemic delays, some of us don’t have a Christmas shopping priority in October and November.
But all hope is not lost. Here’s what to do if you have any gifts left to buy this month.
WATCH OUT FOR RESISTANCE
Keep checking back with retailers – both online and in stores – over the next few weeks and you might be pleasantly surprised.
âTypically, retailers get multiple deliveries during the Christmas season. Even if something sells out earlier in the season, there’s always a chance it’ll be back in stock in December, âsaid Katherine Cullen, senior director of Industry and Consumer Insights for the national retail association.
And do you remember all the deliveries that were supposed to arrive weeks ago? Well, they might finally find their way onto US soil – and onto store shelves in the coming weeks.
âGiven some of these delays affecting port retailers, we need to factor in the holiday shipments that they have scheduled for November. Maybe they come in December, âsays Cullen.
In addition to physically visiting stores or manually checking websites for product availability, you can also let technology do the work for you. Many retail sites allow you to enter your email address and sign up to be notified when a particular item is back in stock.
CHECK DELIVERY PERIOD
When you find something you want to buy, make sure you get it in time for the holidays. If you’re not sure if something will arrive when you need it, Cullen recommends checking a retailer’s website and social media accounts, or calling your local store.
Cullen says retailers typically advertise order deadlines on their websites. These are the last few days to order if you want your online purchases to be by Christmas. If you miss the deadline, you may have to pay an expedited shipping surcharge. Or you could miss the Christmas delivery altogether.
The United States Postal Service has already announced its holiday delivery times. December 15th is the cut-off date for land-based retail shipping in the adjacent US for pre-Christmas shipments. Expect large retailers to advertise a similar date.
Sometimes certain products are behind schedule or have shipping estimates that vary from across the site. When checking out online, always pay attention to the information about the product and the expected delivery date.
If you don’t want to summarize it too narrowly, you can always shop in person from a small local store instead. And if something you ordered doesn’t arrive as expected, consider taking a photo of the gift and giving that as a placeholder for the physical product ahead.
BUY A GIFT CARD
Gift cards might not be the most personal present, but they might be the most practical present of 2021.
“If there’s a year to give away a gift certificate, it is it,” said Darrin Duber-Smith, senior lecturer in marketing at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Gift cards enable digital delivery, which completely bypasses shipping logistics. And the risk of a gift card not being available is low.
Gift cards and certificates are less of a headache for the giver, but they can pose limitations for the recipient – especially if shelves are empty until January. Those you give gift cards to may need to hold them for a while before you can redeem them.
“Consumers need to be patient when redeeming their gift cards,” says Duber-Smith.
WAIT FOR THE LAST MINUTE
If you’re not the type of person who gets stressed out by waiting until the very last minute, there is another way to get gifts – and at a discount.
Super Saturday is the nickname for the last Saturday before Christmas. This year it’s December 18th. On this big shopping day, Cullen expects the stores to hold sales like any other year.
Last year department stores, makeup brands, shoe stores, and more all offered discounts of up to 70%.
If you choose to go this route, you will likely have to go to the store or order online to get it in-store. And inventory can be low, reducing your choices.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Courtney Jespersen is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @courtneynerd.
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