Holiday Shopping Starts Early in 2021

The holiday season brings many warm memories and traditions. It conjures images of ice skating in Pier Village, getting a nice cup of hot cocoa after class, and spending time with loved ones. The holiday season also round out the fall semester, which always feels like it is going on a little too long.

One thing that can dampen these feel-good moments is the craziness that is holiday gift shopping. In a normal year, this would consist of heading to the mall or outlets for a couple of knock out gifts. Or, if you are a bit of a procrastinator, maybe it looks like rummaging through stores a couple of days before your celebratory evening.

However, 2021 has hardly been a normal year. Not only has our interaction with the world and each other changed as a result of the ongoing pandemic, but there is increasingly more online shopping, far more than at physical storefronts, a development that complicates the task of holiday shopping.

It should be no surprise that online shopping has far surpassed in-store gift buying, especially during the holiday season. Over the last few years, many shoppers have attempted to avoid the horrendously long lines outside of retailers on Black Friday while still snagging some good deals. Most stores have opened online storefronts in response to this, with special deals on the Monday following Thanksgiving weekend, aptly named Cyber Monday.

Biology student Adriana Simancas said that over the past few years, her own holiday shopping habits have mirrored this global trend. She started off buying mostly in store at local retailers for all her gift needs, but has increasingly turned to online storefronts, with the biggest ones being Amazon and American Eagle. Simancas also mentioned how the pandemic has proven to be a deterrent to in-person shopping, especially during the holiday season, because there are so many people in these closed spaces. For many shoppers, the risk aligned with in-person shopping has outweighed the benefits of getting a good deal.

One of the most pressing issues regarding this shift to online holiday shopping is making sure your carefully curated gifts get to their recipient on time. If you choose to shop with online retailers, it is important to remember that the United States is experiencing shipping and delivery delays right now. There are many factors delaying shipping dates including natural disasters, a drop in warehouse and trucking workforce, shipping container shortages, and general issues related to COVID-19. Consumers may also encounter “out of stock” messages, as many retailers may have limited stock due to the same shipping issues that currently plague consumers.

The best tactic to make sure everything you need for your holiday gift giving is delivered in time is to order as early as possible. If you are mailing your presents out, the USPS recommends mailing them no later than the first week of December for arrival before the 25th and no later than the second week in November for delivery before the 28th. This will be your best bet to avoid “out of stock” messages and long shipping times. Good luck getting as many deals as you can this holiday season and spread some holiday cheer for the staff here at The Outlook.