For many, the 2020 holidays were not very merry due to the global pandemic. And though the pandemic is still going strong, Americans are ready to celebrate this year — and generously shell out cash on holiday gifts.
According to a new survey from RetailMeNot, Americans plan to spend $885.76 on holiday shopping this year, up from $766 in 2020 and $738 in 2019. Additionally, the survey found that consumers are planning to get an early start this year, with 83% saying they’ll get a move on holiday shopping before Thanksgiving.
The pandemic has greatly impacted consumer behavior, with more people shopping online and preferring curbside delivery over an in-store experience. This holiday season, online shoppers have high expectations of shipping — with 46% of consumers saying they are more likely to buy from a retailer that offers free shipping, according to RetailMeNot’s findings.
The demand for free shipping comes at a cost to retailers, who are facing grave shortages due to the pandemic.
“Expect major supply shortages for any consumer good that requires a computer chip to function which includes smartphones, video gaming consoles, cars and even appliances,” said Andrea Woroch, budgeting expert. “The pandemic caused disruptions at manufacturing sites so production is behind and there are just not enough [containers] to meet growing demand.”
Here’s a look at the hottest holiday items, according to budgeting and retail experts — and how to save some money on them, when possible. You’d best get your hands on these gifts sooner than later!
iPhone 13, 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max
- Price: $799+
“[These] will be hot holiday items that will likely sell out fast so you don’t want to wait if you’re planning to scoop this up for your loved one,” said Andrea Woroch, budgeting expert. “It’ll be hard to find savings on this new and popular smartphone, but one way you can save is on accessories. Always shop for cases, chargers, and screen protectors or car kits at sites like Amazon or eBay where you can save over 30% on average.”
- Price: $249
“AirPod Pro was a hot holiday item last year and we can expect to see this on the top of many people’s wish lists again for 2021,” Woroch said. “As with many popular electronics, increased demand and shipping delays will contribute to the supply shortage of this item come December so it’s wise to buy early when you come across any type of sale. You can monitor prices by adding these to Honey’s DropList — they will notify you when they detect a price drop on any item you save to your wish list.”
- Price: $2,495+
“Peloton Tread became available in the US at the end of August this year and will likely be a hot holiday gift,” Woroch said. “Demand for at-home exercise equipment exploded during the pandemic and we are still seeing many people continue working out at home rather than renewing their gym memberships. Expect the Peloton Tread to be backorders this holiday season so order early if it’s on your shopping list.”
- Price: Varies, $169.99+
“Air fryers have been a popular kitchen gadget as people look for healthier ways to prepare favorite foods,” Woroch said. “To save, look at options at your warehouse club store. Costco is selling the Ninja Foodi 6-in-1 10-qt. XL 2-Basket Air Fryer with DualZone Technology for $169.99, compared to $299 for a similar model at both Target and Best Buy. If you don’t have a Costco membership, consider getting one.”
Video Game Consoles
- Price: Varies
“The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S were released last year and have been plagued by stock issues ever since,” said Julie Ramhold, senior writer at DealNews.com. “The Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite, both of which have been out for a few years, are also suffering from stock issues. And the Nintendo Switch OLED is due to be released soon and in all likelihood it too will have major issues with staying on shelves.”
If you want to try to save some cash, Ramhold advises to prepare to shop at the drop of a hat and have browser extensions already installed so you can earn a little cash back.
- Price: Varies
“Last year when the world began to realize the pandemic wasn’t going away anytime soon, we started to see a shortage of bicycles,” Ramhold said. “And unfortunately that trend has somewhat continued. You may be able to find bikes now, but don’t count on it being easy. Earlier this year, some industry experts were predicting the global supply of these items won’t return to normal until 2023.”
Ramhold notes that we’ve also seen prices of bicycles rise this year, so in addition to having a hard time finding a bike to begin with, shoppers can expect higher prices.
“Be prepared to shop around,” Ramhold said. “Whether you want to look at Target, Costco, or an outdoor store like REI, know that the selection may be smaller everywhere you go. If you’re ordering online, anticipate shipping delays, as well.”
- Price: Varies
“Industry experts are reporting that the main diamond suppliers De Beers and Alrova PJSC have a limited supply to actually put on the market,” Ramhold said. “That combined with a huge demand due to other luxuries not being readily available during the pandemic has led to prices increasing anywhere between 5% and 10%, if not more.
If you’re hoping to buy a diamond bauble for yourself or someone else for the holidays, it’s best to get one while you can,” Ramhold continued. “It can take a few months to prep a diamond piece of jewelry and with demand already high, there’s a good chance retailers will have a more limited selection coupled with higher prices as the holidays draw near.”
The Charcuterie Board
- Price: Varies
“Charcuterie is all the rage–you can find ideas for how to fill your board all over social media and Pinterest, tutorials on how to make salami roses, ideas for themed boards (a s’mores board, a taste of Italy, fruits and dips, movie night, etc.),” said Lisa Thompson, savings expert at Coupons.com. “Consider your recipient and what they like, then bundle a gift together that includes a charcuterie board (get it monogrammed for a special twist), wine glass, and all the delicious fixings for a board that uniquely fits them.”
Thompson added that you can use Coupons.com offers at just about any store that provides you with a receipt.
Find Out: Best and Worst Things to Buy Generic
Stocking Stuffers Like Scalp Care and Wireless Chargers
- Price: Varies
“TikTokers have been going crazy over products that incorporate ‘scalp care’ into their daily hair routines, similar to the Shampoo Massage Brush from Ulta Beauty,” said Kristen Gall, Rakuten Rewards‘ president and shopping expert. “This product is under $10 and the perfect stocking stuffer for the beauty lover.
Wireless chargers are also anticipated to be one of the best gifts you can give this holiday, so check out products like the Anker PowerWave Qi-Certified Wireless Charger, available at Best Buy and Target.”
Check Out: 50 Purchases Buyers Almost Always Regret
- Price: Varies
“This may be one of the items least expected to be affected by supply chain disruptions, but it’s an industry that’s a victim like many others,” Ramhold said. “Tons of authors have taken to social media to inform loyal readers that if there are books they want it’s best to order them now. And if there are some coming out in the next few months, industry experts are advising consumers to go ahead and pre order the ones they want.”
Ramhold notes that there’s been a lower capacity for printing but that the issue extends further out because of labor shortages at all levels of the industry as well including paper supply, shipping delays and employees to stock shelves.
“If you’re eyeing a book that’s gotten a ton of hype, it’s best to just go ahead and preorder or pick it up now, rather than trying to wait for a sale,” Ramhold said. “When ordering, consider patronizing a local, independent bookseller or even shopping at Bookshop.org and finding an indie store there to support. Currently we aren’t seeing many sales, although some titles may have bigger discounts than others.”
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