As Holiday Shortages Run Amok, These Shopping Tactics Could Save You Money (and Potentially Christmas)

Tiny gift stack with heart decoration and Christmas Greeting.
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It’s the kind of scenario only Scrooge might get a kick out of: Consumers are in a fever to spend money this holiday season, yet they face a shortage of products because of the global supply-chain crisis, and many of the products they do find have high price tags because of inflation.

See: What Stores Are Open on Thanksgiving and Black Friday?
Find: Which Will Have Better Deals in 2021? Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday

If there ever were a holiday shopping season to strategize, this is the one. A good time to start is Black Friday and then Cyber Monday, when there are plenty of deals to be had. But deals shouldn’t be your only focus — especially if you want to avoid getting elbowed out of the way by all the other shoppers eyeing the same gifts you are.

More than 60% of holiday shoppers said they’ve already seen items marked “out of stock” when searching for gifts, according to the 2021 Deloitte Holiday Retail Survey, which was released before Thanksgiving. Three-quarters of shoppers are concerned about stockouts, the survey found — especially with electronics, accessories and toys.

About four in 10 (39%) respondents said they might spend more this year due to higher prices, up from 20% last year. But for lower-income groups, the opposite is true – they will likely spend less this year because of the high prices.

Make Your Money Work for You

There are ways to increase your chances of finding affordable gifts even in the current environment. Here are some tactics that could help you save money:

1. Go All-In on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Even though many shoppers have been scouting Black Friday sales since the beginning of November, you can still find plenty of deals. What’s more, these might be your last opportunities to find hefty discounts, especially on popular gift items.

“If you don’t shop on arguably the two best shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it may be too late to get a really deep discount until Christmas clearance,” Edgar Dworsky, a consumer advocate and founder of Consumer World, told USA Today.

2. Check Out Refurbished Items

It’s hard enough finding the latest electronic gadgets during a normal holiday season, but this year it’s especially tough because of the global microchip shortage. If you can’t find a new laptop or smartphone as a gift, one option is to buy a refurbished one at a lower price. Major retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy sell items that have been refurbished by manufacturers like Apple. Many work as well as new models and include the same warranties.

Make Your Money Work for You

3. Buy Used Gifts

Here’s a surefire way to save money this holiday season — and something a lot of Americans are expected to do. An estimated $160 billion will be spent on used merchandise this year, according to an October survey by online marketplace Mercari and retail consultancy GlobalData. That’s up nearly 15% from 2020. Good places to look are thrift stores, consignment shops and online retailers such as Poshmark and Tradesy, which sell used clothing and accessories.

See: Here’s How Much You’d Save If You Didn’t Buy Christmas Presents
Find: Gifts No One Wants — And What To Buy Instead for the Same Price

4. Avoid the Supply Chain Altogether

If you can’t find gifts on your shopping list because they’re out of stock, consider giving something that doesn’t have to be shipped around the country or world. Options here include tickets to concerts, sporting events, theater productions and amusement parks, or gift cards to restaurants. These options can also help you save money because you can control how much you want to spend.

Make Your Money Work for You

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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