Don’t panic, but Christmas shopping is going to be more complicated this year. (You know…supply chain issues, labor challenges, severe weather...) So, how do we still keep our eyes on the prize and sleuth out the best deals early? We asked Kristin McGrath, shopping expert and editor at RetailMeNot.
1. Prioritize Rewards Over Savings
Reality check: Prices will go up this year, due to the material and labor shortages we mentioned above. So instead of obsessing about immediate savings, McGrath suggests focusing on rewards that can help reduce the cost of future shopping trips. For instance, Target Circle (the retailer’s loyalty program) is offering 1 percent back on practically everything—and you can apply it to future purchases at the store. Likewise, Kohl’s is offering some great Kohl’s Cash opportunities in lieu of lowered prices at the register. (McGrath has seen as much as $100 in Kohl’s Cash back on select items.) Finally, keep an eye out for small-denomination gift cards with purchase. Let’s say you nab a $5 gift card by buying the bigger tub of laundry detergent—that’s savings down the road.
2. Look for savings on household items as well as gifts
It’s easy to get caught up buying gifts on Black Friday, but McGrath also recommends sourcing deals on “boring” items you need for the holidays and beyond. Think: Bath towels for the influx of relatives, storage bins for all the new toys, and essentials like paper towels, hand soap and dishwasher detergent, which most folks burn through this time of year. If you can stock up now at a discount, more power to your wallet.
3. Remember that Black Friday happens earlier than Friday
Even before the pandemic, retailers were shifting their sales earlier for years. But while rolling discounts can cause anxiety about whether or not you’re nabbing the best price, they’re actually a positive thing for 2021. “If you’re dead set on holding out for the real Black Friday, it’s true—you’ll likely find some of the best pricing of the year that week, but you also could encounter very low supply behind those low, low prices,” says McGrath. In other words, unless you can afford to have your item not arrive on time or be totally sold out, it’s better to snag a deal the minute you see it.
4. Use “Smart” Promo Code Browser Extensions
Extensions like RetailMeNot’s Deal Finder Chrome extension make it easy to automatically scan for promo codes and cash-back offers which you can apply to your purchase, no matter when you shop, adds McGrath. Our other go-to, the Honey extension, is also available for Chrome
5. If You’re Going to Shop Last Minute, Curbside Is King
There’s never been a better time to shop local, but if you’re online shopping at the eleventh hour, opt for pickup-eligible items, which you know are in-stock. McGrath says you might even find the occasional curbside pickup discounts from retailers who are trying to entice shoppers…or clear out their shelves for more goods.