The second week of November might seem early to begin gift shopping, but the longer you wait, the less likely you are to find what you need, says Scott Grawe, chair of the department of supply chain management at Iowa State University. This is especially true this year, he says, as consumers stocking up ahead of a pandemic winter compound regular holiday shopping demands.
"This supply chain is not where it needs to be in order to support the huge peak in shipping demand that happens during the holiday shopping season," he says. "Consumers who wait until the last minute to do their shopping will find the shelves a little more picked over than they have been in the past, because I think the replenishment won't come in as quickly."
Here are some of the items that are already selling quickly and that you may want to get before they're gone, according to consumer shopping experts.
It's no surprise that the PS5 and Xbox Series X, released November 12 and 10, respectively, are selling fast. But it's not only newer gaming consoles that are flying off shelves, says Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews.com.
"Even the Nintendo Switch, which has been out for a few years, is selling quickly," she says. "We saw retailers having trouble keeping Switch consoles in stock earlier this year. Now, with the holidays upon us, even though consoles are basically selling for list price, that's not stopping consumers from snagging them whenever they can."
A Nintendo Switch at Target retails for $300 and is already out of stock in some ZIP codes. At Best Buy, a Nintendo Switch retails for the same price but is not available for pickup in many areas. For example, there is no in-store pickup available within 250 miles of Irving, Texas, according to Best Buy's website.
"TVs are selling out quickly, which is to be expected given that some [Black Friday] deals are running earlier," Ramhold says.
At Best Buy, a Samsung 65″ Class 7 Series LED 4K UHD Smart Tizen TV is discounted from $530 to $478. And at Walmart a Samsung 50″ Class 4K Ultra HD (2160P) HDR Smart QLED TV QN50Q60T 2020 is discounted from $650 to $498.
Scour Black Friday deals, which are happening all month, to see how to best update your home theater experience.
And don't forget to check price-matching policies. "Some stores are extending price-matching policies to boost consumer confidence in shopping early," Ramhold says.
Wellness products might replace beauty products as small gifts for many shoppers this year, says Katie Hunt, co-founder of online boutique Showfields. "All natural hand sanitizers are selling quickly," she says. "I feel like everyone is grabbing a bunch of those for stocking stuffers."
Bath & Body Works, which experienced a dramatic spike in hand sanitizer sales this spring, is selling a holiday-themed five-pack of mini hand sanitizers for $8.
Consumers are stocking up for a long winter at home, says Kristin McGrath, shopping expert at Offers.com. There has been "difficulty in finding things" like house slippers, she says.
This year, loungewear in general sold better than it has in previous years. From March to October, pajama sales were up 43% compared to what they were last year, according to data from Square. And jogger sales were up 32%.
This means it might be hard to find the exact size or pattern you want. For example, at Old Navy a red flannel pajama set for kids, which is retailing for 50% off of $34.99, is only available in XXL. The green flannel set, at the same price, is available in all sizes, though.
No matter how long or short your holiday shopping list is this year, be sure to take advantage of online deals and utilize curbside pickup. And if you must visit stores, wear a mask and keep the trip brief.
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