The holiday season begins at the end of November and stretches into the first week of January. But this five-week stretch may not necessarily be the best time for everyone to shop.
Harvard Business Review says that the retail industry has been turned on its head in recent years, and shoppers and retailers may want to rethink their approaches to the holiday shopping season. Consumers are no longer interested in retailers dictating their shopping schedules, and some people have grown accustomed to buying products when they want them — especially when price is of no concern.
Even budget-conscious shoppers have changed their habits, says the shopping advisor RetailNext. Many holiday shoppers are delaying their shopping until January to take advantage of post-season sales.
Holiday shopping need not wait until after the holiday season, either. A 2017 RetailMeNot survey found that 45 percent of U.S. consumers said they planned to start shopping before November 1. One-quarter of the survey respondents said they planned to start shopping before October, and 12 percent started shopping for the holidays in the summer.
So when should consumers do their holiday shopping? It all depends on what fits a person’s individual needs.
- Shop sales, not schedules. If budget is a big concern, shoppers should grab items that are on sale whenever they are available. That can mean shopping at any time of the year. People can try making a master shopping list early in the year and saving it on their mobile phones. While shopping throughout the year, items from the list can be purchased and stored until the holidays.
- Shop your strengths. Those who get a thrill from tackling their entire shopping list in one haul can still do that. Shopping in this manner can help shoppers focus on the task at hand and reduce the likelihood of wasting time. But keep in mind that, according to a survey conducted by Business Wire, 65 percent of holiday shoppers scramble to complete their purchases in the last two weeks before Christmas, so shoppers who delay may be stuck in long lines at the mall.
- Embrace in-store pickup. Many retailers are merging their online and brick-and-mortar operations. Shoppers have the convenience of price-comparison and online shopping, with the physical enjoyment of going out to the store to complete their purchases. In-store pickup often enables shoppers to avoid hefty shipping fees, as in-store pickup is free. Plus, scoping out items online — and ensuring they’re in stock — saves the hassle of making a trip in vain.
Shoppers can look beyond the conventional holiday season to get the best prices and deals that fit their shopping needs.