The holiday shopping rush is officially on and the turkey hasn’t even thawed in the fridge for Thanksgiving yet.
There are only two weeks left until Black Friday and many department stores, like Macy’s and Walmart, are already flooding us with plenty of offers online after Thanksgiving.
At first glance, a lot of people are already getting their supplies.
On a quick trip to Target late on a Saturday night in early November, I spotted a customer who had loaded her cart with a huge box containing an artificial Christmas tree, a giant wheel of outdoor lights, and other holiday trinkets. .
Yes, just a week after Halloween, and even more shoppers gathered in the party section at the back of the store that night, picking up ornaments and other decorations.
What is the rush that one might ask? It’s twofold: A lot of people want to bring back the holidays with vengeance after the pathetic, scaled-down celebrations of 2020. At the same time, we have all of these frightening warnings of supply chain havoc and potential shipping delays.
Buyers fearful of shortages and delays buy early
Retailers, of course, are playing on fears of shortages and delays. Macy’s website, for example, tops the list with the tagline in early November: “Get Christmas presents on time!” ”
Many consumers appear ready to pivot and face whatever happens to them the best they can, based on the recently released 2021 Consumer Vacation Buying Report by TransUnion.
âOverall, what we’ve found is that consumers plan to spend more, shop earlier, and try new retailers,â said Shannon Wu-Lebron, senior retail manager at TransUnion’s diversified market activities.
Wu-Lebron told me in an interview that consumers seemed much more cautious about their spending plans last year. But this year’s survey showed a 22% increase in the number of people who plan to spend more on their holiday shopping – and that after two years of consumers talking about their intention to spend less.
About 33% of those polled said they were shopping earlier this season because they anticipated problems getting freebies due to supply chain issues.
Many are willing to buy in new places if necessary. According to the TransUnion survey, 44% of respondents said they would consider new retailers they know well and 23% are open to new retailers even if they’ve never heard of them before.
All the buzz, which started to build in early fall, about supply chain disruptions is pushing consumers to be more creative with their gifts.
Offer something else
Concerns about the scarcity of certain items prompted 25% of those surveyed to say they are considering other giveaways.
The survey didn’t ask what kind of alternative consumers might consider, but some may be more willing to buy gift cards, especially for experiences like Uber rides, Netflix memberships, or dinner parties. outside.
Anticipating a need to overcome stressful purchasing scenarios remains in the consumer’s DNA, however.
About 8 in 10 respondents said they plan to do at least half of their holiday shopping online this year. However, of this group, 53% said their biggest concern is the possibility of a merchant not filling their order on time.
As a result, people tend to shop a bit earlier than last year.
A large group of consumers polled by TransUnion – 47% – said they started their holiday shopping in October or earlier this year. This compares to 45% in last year’s survey.
Many of these first-time buyers are baby boomers, who are now between the ages of 57 and 75. Only 36% of Gen Z consumers – those aged 24 and under – have already started shopping for the holiday season.
No one really knows, of course, how the holiday season will unfold. The exact items on your list might be readily available if you’re flexible and don’t have a particular sweater or pair of boots at heart.
It’s wise to start paying attention to what’s available now and not to wait too long if you come across a decent sale price.
And by all means, be extra careful when ordering online. Make sure the retailer has your correct email address and contact details if there is a problem.
This year a retailer sent me two emails about an order for a sweater made on October 26th. First, I didn’t need to answer. But I was sent a second email telling me that now the order has been delayed a second time – and may not ship until November 26th. The email said I had to call or email the retailer by November 11 if I wanted to. to wait that long or the order will be automatically canceled and my money will be refunded.
We may need to pay more attention to these notices if there are any issues in the supply chain. And there might even be less room for error.
Last year I had issues with shipping a pair of pink velor pants home because I hadn’t been paying attention when I ordered online and the autofill came into play. I had half the correct information and the rest was a mess. Needless to say the pants never arrived but I was able to get my money back.
My advice: check what’s filled out and double-check all confirmation emails.
Stay on your toes, especially if you’re in a hurry
Remember, rushing through your holiday shopping list rarely goes well. You might be exhausted if you can’t wait to grab that last one – and end up forgetting to use a coupon, leaving your purse unattended ready to be stolen by a thief or even stupidly lose your card. credit in the store or parking lot. It happens.
It’s the same if you shop online. If you’re in a hurry, you might miss out on signs that you are checking out a copycat but bogus website. An online website may look like a real deal, but cybercriminals are also engineering sites that copy famous brands.
Some scams start on Facebook by offering a coupon or special price associated with a popular retailer. Consumers should treat too good to be true prices or offers as a huge red flag.
Scammers, of course, are very likely to play on the commodity scarcity angle again.
Following:Clever scammers try to stress you out
By all means, don’t fall into the trap of a fake “flash sale”
On the trail of Star Wars Galactic Snackin ‘Grogu? Or a Nintendo Switch? The concern, of course, is that popular items might be a lot harder to find in December.
So beware of bogus “flash sales” or other offers you might spot on social media or online.
The Better Business Bureau warns that consumers should once again be aware of potential scams involving âmust-haveâ toys.
Some crooks might suddenly have an out-of-stock toy everywhere.
The website will likely look very professional and feature images of the product. But consumers risk receiving a counterfeit version or nothing at all.
And, unsurprisingly, you won’t find anyone to reimburse you.
A buyer told BBB Scam Tracker about a bad deal looking for a Nintendo Switch OLED. Online, the consumer has found an offer for $ 99.99, for an item often priced at around $ 500.
That should have been a clue there. But the consumer bought the Nintendo Switch and then loaded it onto a few PlayStation 5 consoles, again for $ 99.99 each. Another clue: a super advantageous price on a PlayStation 5 difficult to refine? A game console that typically costs around $ 500 or more? And resold on eBay and elsewhere for $ 800 or more?
Of course, you will receive a confirmation number by e-mail. But good luck getting something else – or finding someone to help you track an order or get a refund.
A big risk is that you spend the money and find out that the product will never, ever be shipped to you, according to a BBB alert.
Since many people may be more than willing to buy online now if they find that an item is out of stock at many stores, it’s a good idea to remember a few shopping tips:
- Make sure you are dealing with reputable stores and websites. Take the time to research the seller.
- Don’t be fooled by the very low prices. The BBB notes that “unreasonably low prices are a red flag for a scam on many products.”
- Check the customer service number. Call him before ordering. See if it’s real or not. âBefore providing your name, address, and credit card information, make sure the company has a working customer service number,â the BBB said.