48% of Consumers Have Started Their Holiday Shopping Early. Here's Why You Should, Too

by Maurie Backman | Published on Oct. 31, 2021

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This isn't the year to procrastinate on holiday shopping.


Key points

  • A new survey reveals that almost half of consumers are shopping early this year.
  • Supply chain issues and shipping delays could cause an inventory shortage, so getting a head start is crucial.

Many people enjoy the act of giving gifts during the holidays. And even if you don't particularly enjoy spending a large chunk of your paycheck on gifts, let's face it -- it's sort of an obligation.

But if you're the type to wait until the last minute to make holiday purchases, you may want to rethink your plans. In a recent American Express survey, 48% of consumers said they've started their holiday shopping early. And this year more so than ever, that's a really smart move.

Shipping delays could lead to empty shelves

There's a reason consumers are being warned not to wait until the last minute to buy holiday gifts this year. Supply chain and shipping issues are causing a lot of inventory holdups, to the point where some retailers are worried about not having enough product available during the holidays. If you delay your purchases too long this holiday season, you might miss out on some of the things on your list.

Also, because of the aforementioned issues, it's costing retailers more money to get their hands on inventory. And that means some of those expenses are being passed along to consumers. If you do your shopping early, you'll have more of an opportunity to look around for good deals. Wait too long, and those discounts might be off the table.

Now, if you're worried that starting your shopping early will mean missing out on big shopping days like Black Friday, fear not. First of all, it's a myth that all of the best deals come out on Black Friday. Often, you can score discounts that are just as substantial before or after Black Friday if you do your research.

Also, this year in particular, a lot of retailers are offering discounts ahead of Black Friday in an effort to promote a steady flow of purchases rather than a clustered event around Black Friday itself. That may help retailers avoid scenarios where out-of-stock items lead to lower holiday sales. So if you shop ahead of time, you shouldn't lose out financially.

Use the right credit cards for your purchases

If you'll be using credit cards for holiday shopping purposes, a little strategy could go a long way. First, see if any of your existing cards have bonus rewards for big-box or department store purchases this quarter. Those could put extra cash back in your pocket.

At the same time, see if it makes sense to apply for a new credit card with a sign-up bonus. If you're planning to do a lot of holiday shopping, you may have an easy time meeting the spending requirement to snag a bonus. And that could mean getting a few hundred dollars in extra cash to shop with.

Get moving with your shopping

Whether you plan to hit the stores this year or shop online for the holidays, don't wait too long to start checking items off of your list. We don't know how much of an inventory crunch will ensue as the holidays get closer, but it's a chance you probably don't want to take.

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