Ask an Expert: Should I Do My Holiday Shopping Early This Year?
Happy Black Friday season, deal-seekers! We're back again with another reader's dilemma, and the subject is one many of you have likely been curious about. Check out our latest column on whether you should start your holiday shopping now or wait until Black Friday itself.
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Should I Do My Holiday Shopping Early This Year?
Dear Ask an Expert,
I'm already seeing Black Friday deals at different stores and am not sure what to do. Should I start my holiday shopping now or hold off until Black Friday? I don't know if these early Black Friday deals will continue to be good or if it's better to wait and see what Black Friday brings.
Holiday Shopping Headache
There's no denying that the holiday "creep" has grown worse over the years, and the pandemic seems to have only accelerated that process. In 2020, for example, Amazon moved its Prime Day event to October. And last year, more retailers rolled out Black Friday offers by mid-October, due to forecasted shipping delays and supply chain disruptions. This year, the events showed up even earlier. Target put on another Deal Days event from October 6-8, and Amazon hosted the year's second Prime Day sale on October 11-12.
Since those events, Target and Amazon have gone all-in on offering early Black Friday deals and a variety of holiday deals, respectively. Combine that with perks like Target's Holiday Price Match Guarantee already being in effect, and it's no wonder shoppers are curious about whether early holiday shopping is worth it.
Perks of Early Holiday Shopping
Let's dive deeper into this topic by talking about the benefits of early holiday shopping. The first perk has to do with price matching, and the fact that many stores have different price matching policies around Black Friday than they do the rest of the year. They may put price matching on hold for as short of a period as Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, or for as long as two straight weeks surrounding those holidays.
But if you're shopping early enough in the season, there's a chance you can take advantage of price matching at your favorite retailers. Before you start your shopping, though, check and see if those stores' policies have changed for the season and which competitors they'll price match, to make the process easier.
Opting for early holiday shopping also makes it simpler to divide your spending over a longer period of time. Inflation around Black Friday is likely a big reason why consumers are concerned about holiday spending this year, and why they may wish to spread it out rather than take a bigger hit all at once. Retailers are aware of these misgivings, as well, which is partially why they're spreading out their deals and giving shoppers more time to complete their checklists. By starting your shopping now, you can take your time — to a certain degree, anyway — and space out your trips. And that could help you stay within your budget.
Risks of Early Shopping
Shopping early for Christmas or other winter holidays doesn't always work out well for your wallet. Lower prices may come later, for one thing. Some stores aren't currently offering Black Friday deals, and shopping early at those places may prove to be a mistake. This is because when they do have their Black Friday sales in November, that's likely to be the time they offer notable deals. If you aren't seeing discounts at your favorite retailers, it's best to hold off for the time being.
Also, you can't expect small businesses to offer deals yet. If you're planning to shop indie companies this holiday season and want to save, you may have to wait until Black Friday, or at least closer to it. These stores don't typically have the same capacity to be able to offer excellent deals for as long as big chains do. So their sales may be great, but much shorter-lived. Follow these companies on social media and sign up for emails to find out when their events will occur. That way, you can jump on them before they sell out or end.
Is It a Good Idea to Shop Early for the Holidays?
With all that said, the question of whether you should do your Christmas or other holiday shopping early is going to depend on your situation. If you have the funds to shop and are seeing deals that are actually worthy, then it's fine to start your holiday shopping now.
But if your budget is already stretched thin, you may want to at least create a priority-based shopping list before adding any items to your cart. That way, you can focus on the most important items and ensure you get those, rather than risk waiting until it's too late and missing out on products altogether.
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