The day before: 5 ways to navigate the holiday gift crisis
NEW YORK, October 4 (Reuters) – If your kids care about a particular toy this holiday season, a word of warning: It might not be as easy as wandering around a store and take it off a shelf.
Instead, you might find yourself right in the middle of supply chain hell.
In many ways, 2021 is a perfect logistics storm, says Juli Lenett, U.S. toy industry advisor at The NPD Group.
“It has to do with the closures in China due to COVID, the cost of shipping rising incredibly, the port of LA is shrinking and the lack of trucks and drivers,” says Lennett.
In addition to everything, there is also a very high consumer demand. Toy sales from last year through August increased 18%. This year’s sales are up another 18%, and that momentum is expected to continue through the end of the year, Lenett said.
“There has been an incredible increase in consumer demand,” said Ed Desmond, executive vice president of The Toy Association business group. “People have been home for a year and a half, and it has affected all kinds of consumer products, including toys. “
Global supply chain challenges don’t mean you’re out of options. But the situation demands that you be more strategic and thoughtful in planning a vacation than in the past.
Here are five expert tips:
It might seem silly to start buying now for an event months away, but that’s exactly what you should be doing.
“So many people tend to wait until the holiday season, but there’s actually a good supply on the shelves right now,” Desmond says. “If you’re in the stores for other reasons, like back-to-school shopping, and see something you like, buy it now. “
CONSIDER THE POPULARITY OF TOYS
Every year, a handful of toys ignite children’s imaginations. If what you are looking for falls into this category, be proactive.
For example, nine of the top 10 new toys are either collectible cards (football and baseball) or building sets, according to The NPD Group. In other words, if your kid wants a Lego set for Boba Fett’s starship from the Star Wars Character Universe – # 6 on the NPD list – start shopping.
Other hot toy lists that might alert you to impending product cuts: The Toy Insider, Amazon, Walmart, and Macy’s.
USE MULTIPLE MONEY-SAVING STRATEGIES
A product in demand means that it will be difficult this year to find attractive discounts, but not necessarily impossible. Consumer credit expert Andrea Woroch suggests sites that monitor price drops, like Honey, whose “Droplist” alerts you when targeted items are discounted.
Also, be on the lookout for coupons from retailers, for example through the Cently browser extension, which will automatically search for applicable coupons and apply those codes at checkout.
You can find additional discounts for first time purchases from a retailer or for subscribing to their mailing list. You could also save money after the fact; some retailers will refund you the difference if there is a subsequent price drop soon after your purchase.
EXPAND YOUR SEARCH
Most consumers have a reference site for many purchases, like Amazon, and don’t look much further. In 2021, you may need to deepen your retail pool – just because something isn’t available at one doesn’t mean it’s out of stock at the other.
Google Shopping, Woroch suggests, is a useful tool for surveying a wide range of retailers for the same item.
Another tip from Woroch: If an item is extremely popular and happens to be available locally, select the curb pickup option. An online order can always be canceled by retailers when it runs out, so take advantage and go pick it up yourself.
ENLARGE YOUR LIST
If you’ve been obsessed with a desired item, you’ve basically put yourself in a corner. Whereas if you have multiple options, you have increased your chances of getting at least something on the list.
This might be a good time to manage expectations and encourage the kids to ask Santa for a few different gifts that they would be just as happy about.
“If they want something very specific, you might have to steer them in a different direction,” Lennett explains. “Or you might get not that specific product, but something close.”
Editing by Lauren Young and Aurora Ellis Follow us on @ReutersMoney or on http://www.reuters.com/finance/personal-finance.
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