Lots of Christmas trees are open and Christmas carols are blaring on the radio, but harassed supply chains and higher prices can make this holiday season less cheerful as shoppers struggle to find certain gifts .
More than 6 in 10 holiday shoppers say they have found items marked “out of stock” while searching for gifts, according to a pre-Thanksgiving survey by consulting firm Deloitte. Fifty-four percent said they noticed higher prices.
“There is a triple whammy for consumers this buying season: higher prices, limited quantities and empty store shelves from previous sales that have since ended,” said Edgar Dworsky, a consumer advocate. , who blamed shipping delays and inflation for the challenges. “There are always shortages of toys or tech items of the year, but all of these factors are making things worse this year. “
A global shortage of semiconductor chips can make it particularly difficult to find the latest model of smartphones, game consoles and other tech-related gadgets and devices, retail experts say.
“It’s anything that has chips in it,” says Glenn O’Donnell, research director for Forrester Research, noting that phones, smart devices, even toys with Bluetooth connectivity will be harder to find. “If he walks and talks, you ‘will probably see shortages on these things.’
To top it off, bots can pick up hard-to-obtain items, allowing some vendors to charge a lot more for coveted items.
So what should a buyer do?
“It’s more about just having an open mind and doing a little research,” says Casey Runyan, vice president and editor of Brad’s Deals. “Have a Plan B and don’t be afraid to … look for more unique gifts.”
Here are a few ways shoppers can navigate this gift-buying season.
Black Friday Deals
Black Friday sales have been rolling since early November and with headlines warning that some gifts will be hard to find, 70% of holiday shoppers started shopping in the last week of October, according to the Deloitte survey.
Despite the early rush, buyers still have the option to earn discounts until Cyber Monday, November 29. This week could be the last chance before Christmas for a good deal, some consumer experts warn.
“If you don’t shop on the two best shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it might be too late to get a really big discount until Christmas,” says Dworsky , consumer advocate and founder of the publication Consumer World.
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Can’t find an Xbox?
If you can’t immediately grab the Nintendo Switch OLED console or the latest Xbox, there are plenty of low-tech options out there, from board games to Legos to stuffed animals.
“I believe at some level we’re going to have more of a low-tech Christmas,” says O’Donnell. “Instead of (the video game) Words With Friends, it’s good old school Scrabble with physical tiles.”
Some of these low-tech toys may also be delayed due to overseas shipping delays, but at least they won’t be unavailable due to the chip shortage, he says.
Walmart and Best Buy Have Refurbished Deals
If you really want a laptop or smartphone and can’t get a new model, you might want to buy one that’s refurbished. Just make sure you are dealing with a reputable retailer, like Best Buy, Verizon, or Walmart, and get an item that has been refurbished by the manufacturer.
“A lot of people are wary of repackaged items,” says Runyan. But when you buy a certified refurbished computer from Apple, for example, “it’s a completely clean and repaired machine … and the warranty is as long as if it was a new Mac.”
Regardless of the device, make sure you get a warranty that lasts as long as a never-used version, typically a year, she says.
Try subscription boxes or experiences
You can bypass the supply chain altogether by offering tickets to a concert, sporting event, or play. Meanwhile, subscriptions may be the giveaway that continues to be given, experts say.
“Supply chain disruptions have created a lot of uncertainty,” says Dan McCarthy, assistant professor of marketing at Emory’s Goizueta Business School. “As people search for alternatives, this could be a pretty promising area that ticks a lot of boxes. ”
Subscription boxes can be a treat, especially since buyers don’t expect specific items.
Subscription services are “meant to create experiences, meals, and products people have never seen or used before,” McCarthy says. “They control the assortment of products. They can choose freebies or stock items … They have that wiggle room that you wouldn’t have with something very specific like an iPhone.”
Reduce your budget with second-hand gifts
About 75% of Americans have purchased at least one used item in the past year, citing everything from bargain hunting to sustainability, according to an October report from online marketplace Mercari and the firm. GlobalData Retail Consulting. U.S. buyers are expected to spend more than $ 160 billion on used merchandise this year, a 14.6% increase from 2020, according to the survey.
Some clothing brands may be harder to find due to supply bottlenecks. But thrift stores or online sites like Poshmark or Tradesy, which sell second-hand clothes and accessories, may be an alternative.
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