Why You Should Start Your Holiday Shopping Early This Year

Dawn-Marie Joseph bought her first holiday gift this year in September. “It was because of what happened last year,” explains the president of Estate Planning & Preservation in Williamston, Michigan.

Supply chain and shipping issues in 2021 meant several of Joseph’s purchases arrived late, with the final packages landing at her door in February. She’s determined not to have a repeat this year, and early Black Friday deals from Target have only served to further encourage her to complete her holiday shopping quickly.

Joseph isn’t alone in looking for early deals either. Nearly 9 in 10 U.S. consumers say they would take advantage of Black Friday-like deals in October, according to the 2022 U.S. News & World Report Holiday Shopping Survey.

Although supply chain issues aren’t as serious as last year and shipping companies seem better prepared for the holiday rush, it can still make sense to hit the stores sooner rather than later.

Here are five reasons why you should start your holiday shopping early this year:

— Sales are starting early.

— Selection will be better.

— Inflation could drive prices higher.

— Early holiday shopping can be better for your budget.

— You’ll enjoy the season more.

Sales Are Starting Early

It isn’t just holiday shopping starting early. Holiday sales are starting early, too.

“A lot of the big retailers are over inventoried,” says Kelly Pederson, partner and U.S. retail lead for PwC. As a result, many companies are offering deep promotions early to help clear out excess stock.

Target and Walmart both held sales events in early October with pricing that rivaled Black Friday deals, and Amazon held a Prime Early Access Sale which mirrored its popular summertime Prime Days event.

“The concentration on Black Friday as a shopping day has dissipated,” according to Pederson. The PwC Holiday Outlook 2022 report found that while 60% of consumers said they would shop on Black Friday in 2015, only 20% plan to do so this year.

Selection Will Be Better

While inventory levels are robust for many products, they may dwindle as we near the holidays. That can be especially true for hot gift items.

“If you wait too long, you might not be able to find it or you may pay more,” says Trey Loughran, chief executive officer of Purchasing Power, a retailer offering a voluntary benefits program for employees that allows them to purchase products and pay them off over a year via payroll deductions.

Computers, newly released products — include Apple devices — and appliances all seem to be in good supply, according to Loughran. But he says gaming consoles and furniture can still be hard to come by.

[Read: How to Make a Budget — and Stick to It.]

Inflation Could Drive Prices Higher

Last-minute shoppers are familiar with the practice of stores slashing prices immediately before the holidays, but things could be different this year.

“Although that tends to be a big deal time, we do have inflation going on,” says Jamie Hopkins, managing partner of wealth solutions in the Philadelphia office of financial firm Carson Group. “That’s a little bit of an unknown right now, but it’s a risk.”

The Consumer Price Index — a main measure of inflation — rose 0.4% in September, a significant increase from 0.1% in August. Overall, inflation is up 8.2% from a year ago. If it continues through November and December, it is possible some prices may increase, rather than decrease, as we get closer to the holidays.

[Inflation Rates Are Breaking Records. Here’s What You Need to Know.]

Early Holiday Shopping Can Be Better for Your Budget

Shopping early gives consumers ample time to find the best deals and save money. It also allows families to spread their spending over multiple paychecks and avoid credit card debt. As interest rates rise and credit card APRs follow, charging purchases and carrying a balance can be costly.

“Manage your shopping in such a way that you don’t find yourself having to utilize very expensive credit options because you haven’t planned accordingly,” Loughran advises.

Early shoppers need to be wary that they don’t overspend though. “We know behaviorally that making a lot of small purchases is easier (than buying all your gifts at once),” Hopkins says. “There’s a risk you might overspend if you’re not paying attention.”

Joseph solves this problem by keeping notes on her phone that list each gift recipient, gift purchases and their prices. When everyone has their gift listed, she stops shopping.

[The Best Days to Shop in 2022]

You’ll Enjoy the Season More

Perhaps the best reason to do your holiday shopping early is to have time to focus on more important priorities as we get closer to the end of the year.

Shopping online earlier means less stress about whether packages will show up on time, and heading to the stores before Black Friday may mean fewer crowds to fight. Plus, buying gifts in advance means plenty of time to wrap presents rather than trying to squeeze it all in during a single night.

Everyone says they want the holiday season to be meaningful, but it’s hard to enjoy the moment if you are constantly chasing deals. Shop early this year and enjoy a more relaxed December for a change.

More from U.S. News

12 Shopping Tricks to Keep You Under Budget

Is Black Friday Shopping Really Worth It?

How to Get the Best Price on Everything, Every Time You Shop

Why You Should Start Your Holiday Shopping Early This Year originally appeared on usnews.com

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