Even with the convenience of shopping online from your couch, holiday shopping will more than likely be just as weird as everything else this year. And if you need to ship gifts, you really need to think ahead. Way ahead!

Consumer Reports has, of course, been looking into the ways you can get your gifts to your loved ones by the time the holidays arrive, instead of after all the decorations are put away!

Whether shopping or shipping, there are factors that could affect your holiday celebration. Disruptions in supply chains, and then, delays in shipping timelines, could make getting the perfect gift to your family members a real challenge, both in finding what you want and getting it where and to whom you want.

Major carriers like the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, (both of whom carry packages for Amazon) as well as FedEx have seen a real slowdown in on-time delivery. The expectations for the holiday season are, in one shipping executive's words, that it will "be a roller coaster".

Here are some tips on ensuring your gifts arrive before or at the same time Santa does.

  • Shop early - This is a no-brainer. Whether you're shopping virtually or in-person, this one is going to be imperative this year. Forget about last-minute - - anything. One of the few positives from the pandemic is that most Black Friday sales began around Amazon Prime day in October. This event nudged other online and brick and mortar retailers to follow suit. You can probably find a Black Friday deal on something you want, or want to give, right now.
  • Cast a Wide Net - They mean that you may have to shop a wide number of retailers in-store and online to find what you're looking for, whether that's a new X-Box or a hot kitchen appliance. In other words, you may have to actually have to work at it this year!
  • Factor in shipping - You may find fewer free shipping offers, as businesses try to recoup losses. But you can save on shipping fees by shopping online and picking up in stores.
  • Sign up for alerts - Tracking your purchases can either offer you peace-of-mind or drive you crazy...depending on the outcome.

Happy shopping!


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