How to Win at Holiday Shopping During the Supply Chain Crisis

Chad Fairchild
November 22nd, 2021 | 9 mins

Maybe you’ve heard, but there’s an ongoing supply chain struggle happening in the world, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, shipping issues, and labor demand issues, we’re experiencing a perfect storm of limited production and limited workforce to move products. What does this mean for you and your holiday shopping? If you’re looking for the season's hottest gifts, you may need to act fast.

So set a money date, like tonight, and start creating a budget, timeline, and plan. This is not the year to procrastinate. Looking to buy your loved one the latest Apple Watch Series 7 or a hand-crafted gift from Etsy? You’re going to find yourself in a pickle if you wait too long.

TL;DR

In case you don’t feel like reading this whole article because you need to drop everything to start your holiday shopping right now:

  • Create and stick to a budget
  • Skip Amazon and go directly to the source when it comes to third-party vendors, it’ll save you money and support small businesses
  • Shop small, but be mindful about shipping times
  • Utilize tools (like price alerts and browser extensions like Amazon Assistant for Chrome or Honey) so you know when the best deals are happening or when there are major price drops
  • Think outside the box (digital gifts don’t have to be awful)

To budget or not to budget?

This is one of the most important steps, even in “normal” years. Establish your budget up front before buying anything for anyone, and stick to it. We tend to splurge and overextend ourselves during the holiday season, because we want to make our loved ones feel special. Give the gift of joy, and keep your budget intact.

Should you use Amazon for all your holiday shopping needs?

Consider not purchasing directly from Amazon.

If you find a product you want to purchase on Amazon, look up the vendor. You can likely save money and shipping time by going directly to the vendor’s website and making the purchase directly from them. Not only does this help the company — they’ll no longer have to pay fees to Amazon they would have to whenever someone purchased their items through Amazon — but it also allows the vendor to pass the savings back to you, often in the form of free shipping or expedited shipping.

BONUS: Shopping directly from the merchant helps support small businesses!

Do use Amazon to find great gift ideas. Sift through the hottest items and trends to see what everyone is asking for this year. Browse the pre-made categories for new ideas.

Do purchase directly from Amazon when buying an Amazon branded product (duh), or if you’re truly out of time (because most vendors won’t ship as fast as Amazon).

Should you do your holiday shopping at small shops and boutiques this year?

Be prepared for long lead/delivery times as boutique shops tend to be more specialized and understaffed — though the quality, craftsmanship, and care are unparalleled. As mentioned earlier, boutique shops may not be the best option if you’ve really procrastinated, as small stores tend to have longer delivery times.

Many companies start Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) sales the week of Black Friday. There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find deals as early as the Tuesday before (11/23/2021).

How do you know when the best holiday shopping deals are happening?

The world wide web is filled with helpful tools and extensions that can assist you in your holiday shopping. Some worth noting:

  • Honey - this browser extension will check for deals across the web, and alert you of promotional codes that have been used recently, to help make sure you’re getting the best deal possible
  • Dexter - Keep an eye on Amazon prices and price drops with this handy iOS app
  • CamelCamelCamel - Have to shop on Amazon? Check Amazon price history with this site, and buy products you’re watching at the lowest point possible
  • Amazon Assistant for Chrome - Use Amazon’s official browser extension to find the 30-day price history for any product on Amazon, as well as new deals every day, exclusive offers, and personalized recommendations.

Want this season’s hottest product: the Apple Watch Series 7?

Hot item: Apple Watch Series 7 — the latest installment of the Apple Watch is a life-saver. No joke, with the latest features implemented in the Series 7 (including oxygen blood level monitoring and the ability to take an ECG), it will undoubtedly save a life or two. This is definitely a hot item, so don’t wait to purchase.

Alternative: If a loved one simply wants a smartwatch and isn’t smitten with the plethora of features from the Series 7, check out the Fitbit Versa 3. It's packed with features and comes with a cheaper price tag than the Apple Watch.

Down-to-the-wire holiday shopping ideas:

For all of you reading this during the “oh shit, I waited too long” period, don’t worry, we have you covered. Go virtual, but skip the gift card.

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