As crazy as it sounds, we’re readying for the holiday season, and unlike last year’s celebrations (or lack thereof), we’re expecting a major turnout for 2021. With so many people once again traveling to see friends and family for the holidays, one major plot point naturally comes to mind: gifts. But according to experts across the retail landscape, securing the perfect presents for your loved ones might not be as simple as it was pre-pandemic. Sure, there’s a lot to be optimistic about right now, but manufacturers are still struggling to get back to the way things were, so if you want your gifts to arrive in time for the holidays, there are a few extra factors to consider.
First things first: The entire gift-buying process has shifted ahead, with many people opting to start their shopping now instead of waiting until Black Friday or Cyber Monday. “Traditional doorbuster holidays like Black Friday no longer mark the beginning of the holidays,” says Megan Gokey, the head of U.S. marketing at all-in-one shopping app Klarna. In fact, according to Klarna’s 2021 Holidays Unwrapped report, 22% of shoppers have already begun checking off gifts on their loved one’s wish lists, and many more will be following suit as we get closer and closer to the season of giving.
According to Alison Stiefel, general manager at fashion search engine ShopStyle, this shift is a direct result of many retailers struggling to get inventory, which is why we’ve seen so many have limited stock. “Demand is there, but supply is not,” Stiefel says. And that was before the holidays. By the time the year’s busiest shopping season truly begins, scarcely anything will be left, especially when it comes to items that are especially popular. To offset this, “retailers are marketing their key items and bets for the holiday season earlier, [resulting in] people thinking, ‘If I want to get that one specific bag that I’m interested in purchasing and there’s only two left, I need to do it now,'” says Stiefel.
Since we know how busy the holiday season can be, we’re encouraging you not to procrastinate. Instead, get your gift shopping done with time to spare. Ahead, you’ll find 2021’s most sought-after gifts, otherwise known as the ones you’ll need to buy early (like now!).