Money·3 min read

Why You Can't Afford to Procrastinate Holiday Shopping This Year

Lets talk about Holiday shopping
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
October 6, 2021

The Story

‘Tis the season to start holiday shopping. And ho-ho-hope you can get everything on your list. One report says 40% of shoppers are getting a jumpstart on their gift-buying this year. So procrastinating – especially on trying to get the hottest toys and other popular holiday gifts – could leave you empty-handed by EOY. 

It's October. What’s the rush?

One big reason: shortages. Businesses have had to deal with worker shortages and global supply-chain disruptions. And because producing goods is a process, product availability can suffer if it breaks down anywhere along the line. Think: not enough workers to make or deliver stuff, a major storm that delays shipping or cargo ship traffic jams. High EOY demand + low supplies = a very expensive holiday season.

So shouldn't I wait for Black Friday deals?

No need. Holiday deals are already here. To try and kickstart their biggest money-making season early, Amazon started rolling out Black Friday-level discounts in early October. And Target announced it would launch "deal days" online and in stores from October 10-12. So not only can you start saving now, waiting might mean fewer deals and/or sold-out products later.

Is the Grinch in charge of the 2021 holiday season?

Feels like it. Shipping services are also feeling the heat. And raising prices in response. Example: for deliveries between October 3 and December 26, the US Postal Service is increasing shipping rates, ranging from $0.75 more for flat rate boxes and envelopes to $5 more for packages as large as 70 pounds.

So staying on budget is going to be a holiday miracle.

It might not be easy. But here are a few tips:

  • Start shopping. As in, now. Make a list of everyone you plan to shop for, along with what you want to give them and how much it costs. Then, you'll know what deals to look for and be ready to buy when you see a sale.

  • Get your own little (online) helpers. Opting into emails from your fave stores, setting up price trackers, and using browser plugins like Honey or Slick Deals can help you make sure you don’t miss any potential savings.

  • Bundle up. You can still score free shipping from many retailers, but often only if you spend enough. Hitting one shop for multiple gifts can help you reach the required minimum without filling your cart with unnecessary buys.

  • Shop local. Sticking with smaller, local retailers could help you avoid shipping delays and global-supply-chain issues. If you prefer to do your shopping online, curbside pickup is an option at many places. You can also consider sending an e-gift card – no postage required.

Related: Holiday Gifting Without Spending (Too Much) Money


Labor shortages and kinks in the supply chain are predicted to make this holiday season more chaotic and expensive than ever. Meaning this is a great year to actually finish your shopping early like you say you will. Being proactive can save you money and from having to hand-make all your gifts.

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