Millennial Money: How to Last Minute Vacation Shopping

Here’s what to do if you still have some freebies to buy this month.

Supply chain snags. Merchandise sold out. Empty shelves. High shipping costs. Inflation. There are a lot of complications going against you this holiday shopping season.

And despite warnings to shop early due to delays related to the pandemic, some of us did not prioritize holiday shopping in October and November.

But all hope is not lost. Here’s what to do if you still have some freebies to buy this month.


Keep checking with retailers – both online and in stores – over the next few weeks, and you might be pleasantly surprised.

“Typically, retailers receive multiple deliveries throughout a holiday period, so even if something runs out earlier in the season, there is always a chance that it will be back in stock in December.” says Katherine Cullen, senior director of industry and consumer insight. for the National Retail Trade Federation.

And do you remember all those deliveries that were supposed to arrive weeks ago? Well, they could finally make their way onto American soil – and onto store shelves in the weeks to come.

“With some of these delays impacting retailers in ports, we have to factor in the holiday shipments they’ve scheduled for November. Maybe they’ll arrive in December, ”Cullen says.

Along with physically visiting stores or manually checking product availability on websites, you can also let technology do the work for you. On many retail sites, you can enter your email address and sign up to be notified when a particular item is back in stock.


Once you’ve found something you want to buy, make sure you have it in time for the holidays. If you’re not sure something will happen when you need it, Cullen recommends checking a retailer’s website and social media accounts, or calling your local store.

Cullen says retailers typically advertise ordering times on their websites. These are the last days for ordering if you want your online shopping to arrive before Christmas. If you miss the deadline, you may need to pay extra for expedited shipping. Or, you might miss Christmas delivery altogether.

The United States Postal Service has already announced its shipping times for the holidays. December 15 is the deadline for ground retail shipments in the contiguous United States for delivery before Christmas. You can expect major retailers to announce a similar date.

Sometimes specific products are out of stock or have shipping estimates that differ from the entire website. Always pay attention to the product notes as well as the estimated delivery date when navigating the online payment process.

If you don’t want to cut it too close, you can always shop in person at a local small business. And if something you ordered doesn’t arrive on schedule, consider taking a photo of the gift and offering it as a placeholder for the next physical product.


While gift cards aren’t the most personal gift, they can be the most practical gift of 2021.

“If there’s a year to give a gift card, it’s this one,” says Darrin Duber-Smith, senior lecturer in marketing at Metropolitan State University in Denver.

Gift cards allow digital delivery, which can bypass shipping logistics altogether. And there is little to no risk that a gift card will be out of stock.

But while gift cards and certificates will be less of a headache for the giver, they could present limits for the recipient, especially if empty shelves persist through January. Those to whom you give gift cards may need to hold them for a period of time before redeeming them.

“Consumers are going to have to be patient to redeem their gift cards,” Duber-Smith said.


If you’re not the kind of person who gets stressed out waiting for the very, very, very last minute, there is another way to get freebies – and at a reduced price.

Super Saturday is the nickname for the last Saturday before Christmas. This year is December 18th. Cullen expects stores to have sales on this big shopping day, as they do every two years.

Last year, department stores, makeup brands, shoe stores and many more offered discounts of up to 70%.

If you go this route, be aware that you will likely need to visit a store or order online for in-store pickup. And inventory can be low, reducing your choices.


This column was provided to The Associated Press by the NerdWallet personal finance website. Courtney Jespersen is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @courtneynerd.


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