Are you holiday shopping yet?  

Though the kids haven’t even donned their Halloween best, many shoppers are already scooping up presents for under the tree. With supply chain issues, inventory reductions and cargo ships stuck at shore, we know it isn’t just holiday shopping hype. 

I’ve been busy, talking about supply chain issues and its impact on holiday shopping across media venues. The topic isn’t just on the mind of shoppers, 82% of retail executives are somewhat or very concerned about inventory shortages. Consumers are starting their holiday shopping to ensure they have a holly-jolly and hassle-free holiday season. 

Though you may not be ready to make and list and check it twice, you should begin to have a holiday shopping game plan in place now. I’ve got some tips:

The 2021 Game Plan

Holiday shopping in-person will be a key strategy this season

Get your wishlist ready now

Whether for family, friends or co-workers, this is a great time to start to create a plan for everyone on your list. Sites like and Amazon wish list allow groups to collect, track and share gifted items, giving you a better shot at making wishes come true. For my own kids, I had them make their lists for Santa in early October or circle items in catalogs that arrived at home. Then the work began.

Don’t count on doorbuster deals

Sales will be running all season long.  Walmart, Target and Nordstrom have already been running promotions on electronics, clothing and home decor. Doorbuster deals are less likely, as many stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. Walmart, Best Buy and others have announced that, like last year, they won’t be open that Thursday. Instead, most major retailers are encouraging early shopping to help bolster sales in light of predicted inventory shortages.

“This year, we’ll have even more ways for customers to easily and conveniently get their holiday shopping done, over the Black Friday weekend and throughout the entire holiday season,”

Best Buy spokesperson Keegan Shoutz said in a statement to USA TODAY.

If you see something, buy that something – immediately

Chip shortages, factory shutdowns and warehousing issues could make hot gadgets, like the new iPhone 13, even harder to get.  Looking for a specific toy, TV or computer? The best strategy is to buy it in person. Loading up on a few board games on your next Target run could help you avoid coming home empty handed in December. Consumers turning to online shopping should purchase items soon to account for possible shipping delays, though most major retailers are resourcefully stocking their shelves. Gadgets are the category most likely to feel the crunch because components are short, but reports indicate it could even impact shoes and clothing with 75% of Nike’s production out of Southeast Asia. 

Shop Small Businesses Sooner

Large retailers are investing heavily to guarantee they can meet demand. In fact, Amazon is spending billions to ensure products are in stock this seasons. Small businesses will be limited in both product availability and potentially in-person shopping restrictions as the Delta variant forces communities to reinstate lockdown and social distancing measures.  This hits in a critical profit-making quarter. To check items off your list, consider shopping local and ethical businesses now – either online or in person.

With some strategic planning, you can ensure smiles throughout the holiday season. Just be sure to scope out some good hiding spots in your home first and turn off your browsing history, so the surprises aren’t foiled early.