Christmas shopping on its own can be a hassle but when you add on supply chain issues and labor shortages, it takes on a whole new level of struggle. As you get ready to approach Christmas shopping this year, there are few things you may want to remember these unique economic times.
1. Start as early as possible.
Mastercard recently did their latest Spending Pulse study and found companies are marketing up to 75 days before Christmas. Of course, this doesn't mean you must necessarily buy when they start advertising, but based on supply chain problems and low inventory of many products, starting early is wise. Starting early not only increases your desired gifts being in stock, but also provides companies plenty of time to get products delivered to your home.
2. Have a Plan 'B' & Plan 'C'.
Usually, marketers will utilize a principle called "scarcity marketing," encouraging you to buy early before the product out of stock. This is called "subjective scarcity" since it's merely a mindset the marketers want you to have rather than reflecting the reality of their inventory supply. However, because of the unique challenges facing shoppers in 2021, this might be an example of "objective scarcity" which reflects a lack of materials or products due to the pandemic. So, it may be in your best interest to have backup ideas for gifts, in the event you're unable to purchase particular gifts on your list this holiday season.
3. Don't expect as many deals and sales.
This isn't to say sales and deals won't occur, but because inventory shortages and consumer demand, companies may not be as motivated to discount their products compared to prior years. So, while you'll still be able to find ample deals and savings this holiday season, be prepared for some items or stores that may not be offering the savings they have in years past.
4. Always have a budget.
If you don't have a plan for your money, the many companies that are after your money (who do have a plan) will always win. Simply put, a budget is just a plan that tells your money where to go and on what you intend to spend it. According to Magnify Money, about one-third (31%) of all consumers took on debt to pay for holiday expenses. Those who incurred holiday debt in 2020 went in the red, on average, around $1381. This was an increase of nearly $400 (or 40%) from five years ago ($986 in 2015). Your financial health is not worth a few extra gift purchases this holiday season.
As we near closer to Christmas, it's crucial we take a moment to remember the landscape that we are in this year. This isn't intended to scare or propel people into buying gifts they wouldn't normally buy or handle their money more loosely than they typically would. The above points will, hopefully, help adjust expectations. Every Christmas is an amazing celebration on its own, and we have more than enough reason to be grateful for this season. So, let's make sure that, despite shopping challenges, we don't forget why we have the hope that we do--Emmanuel, God with us.