Christmas shopping has always been a challenge, whether it’s the scarcity of this year’s hottest toy or making sure what you order gets to you before the holidays. But this year it is going to be worse than usual, according to the National Retail Federation.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there have been supply shortages; shutdowns in manufacturing centers; backlog in U.S. Ports; and, shortages in trucking and other logistic-related industries. This has caused a bigger-than-usual demand on items this year.
With online shopping becoming the most popular form of purchasing, it is important to know if an item will be delivered before the holidays. Here are five tips to make sure you have the gifts you want by Christmas.
1. Start Early
It may seem obvious, but the sooner an order is placed, the more likely it will arrive before Christmas.
If you want to make sure your item will come on time, check who is shipping your product. If your gift is being shipped from a third-party seller, it may not come in time for Christmas.
With only three weeks until Christmas, time is getting short and the availability of items are decreasing.
Popular brands like Adidas, Crocs and Hasboro have already warned that there could be shortages going into the holiday season. Retail representatives have also said electronics, like laptops, smart watches or kitchen appliances, could also not be available if you try to order them late this year.
Most importantly make note of the estimated delivery date when ordering.
If you're planning on mailing someone a present this year, make sure to check holiday shipping deadlines from USPS, UPS or FedEx to ensure that your gift arrives on time. If you're ordering from a retailer that uses USPS, UPS or FedEx, make sure to double check their holiday shipping deadline so that your item will arrive on time.
2. Store Pickup
It is still possible to get items from an actual brick-and-mortar business within driving distance. In-store pickup is something that really became popular during the pandemic and has continued to be utilized. Availability of products may still be an issue, but by ordering online and picking it up at the store eliminates the need to depend on shipping.
It also reduces the possibility of theft or damage of packages and allows the customer to inspect the item to make sure it is correct.
There are many big retailers, such as Walmart and Target, that offer curbside pickup or using a retail locker.
3. Look for guarantees
Several online retailers offer delivery guarantees and/or subscriptions to make sure you get your orders. Although it may cost extra, having a subscription gives priority to members, such as Amazon Prime which offers same-day or next-day delivery.
There are also retailers that offer assurances that your order will arrive on time by offering an inventory-tracking website. It allows the consumer an opportunity to decide if something will be delivered by a certain time and to keep tabs on its progress.
Shoppers also need to keep a watchful eye, because it won’t be business as usual everywhere this season. On Amazon, for example, items marked with the Prime label might not always come with the regular two-day shipping guarantee
4. Alternative gifts
With time running out, an increased demand for items and the recent issues with shipping, it might be a good idea to think of an alternative that is not dependent on supply levels or delivery times.
Subscriptions or gift cards have increased in popularity because it eliminates the need to have a physical item and allows the person receiving the gift more flexibility. Popular brands like Ipsy, Blue Apron and Birchbox, as well as MasterClass for online learning content, could help shoppers satisfy a lot of people on their lists this year.
There are also subscription for online streaming, such as Netflix, Disney+, Discovery+ and HBOMax.
Trips or future experiences are another safe bet from supply chain issues, although there are still the COVID-19 restrictions to consider. Check travel restrictions and consider individual comfort levels before booking any trips.
5. Traditional shopping
Although online shopping has increasingly become the go-to option for more people, there are still possibilities to purchase gifts in stores. It does not have the flexibility of finding personalized items, but in-store shopping allows the customer to leave the business with the item in hand eliminating the need to depend on shipping or availability of items.
General news reporter Sharon Myers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LexDispatchSM.
This article originally appeared on The Dispatch: Reduce holiday stress with five tips to ensure your gifts arrive on time