Every year, right around the beginning of October, my parent's closet becomes a sacred stashing place for holiday shopping Christmas gifts.
None of us kids were allowed in there for over 2 months. You might think we wouldn't have a reason to be in there anyway, but it made for a great hide-and-seek spot back in the day. The day mom warned us to stay away from her dusty stash was a day all us kids used to gripe about.
My mom always gets the bulk of her Christmas shopping done early, and I'd always make fun of her for it, but this year is different. 2021 has been quite an interesting year for online businesses and online shopping, so Christmas shopping looks a little different this year.
It's time for me to eat a slice of humble pie and start Christmas shopping early along with my mom. My closet has now become a sacred stashing spot, too, and my younger self would have shaken her head in shame. But in 2021, it's the new norm.
How eCommerce has Changed Over the Last Two Years...
eCommerce has had a complete tectonic shift over the last two years, and it's changed the way online shopping looks (especially the Christmas kind).
In April 2020, online business sales jumped a whole 49% because everyone stayed home, hunkered down, and ordered everything to be dropped off at their front door. Obviously, eCommerce stores weren't predicting this jump, and many brands weren't prepared for all the new business.
If you relied on eCommerce like we did before April, you remember how ordering something from Amazon suddenly took 1 month to arrive instead of 1 week (talk about frustrating). Many stores ran out of stock and struggled to meet the demand!
At Parker Baby, we scrambled to get all your orders out the best we could, but it was definitely a shock! We learned a lot that April, and eventually moved our small business to a nearby warehouse because we couldn't fit in a tiny garage any longer.
What Online Holiday Shopping Looks Like Now...
Over the last year, online businesses have really stepped up their game. You've probably noticed that the time it takes to deliver your products has decreased at least a little bit.
Unfortunately, just as things were swinging back to normal, another roadblock emerged.
You may have heard about the cargo ships stuck off the coast of California, but if you haven't, here's the gist. The reason so many products are out of stock or taking so long to deliver right now is because they are most likely stuck on the edge of the Pacific.
The shipping boats can't unload because of the lack of delivery trucks and drivers (another consequence of Covid craziness), and because there's simply not enough room for these ships to port. Because there has been such a huge shortage for delivery and such a huge burst for holiday shopping this year, Christmas shopping in 2021 is going to look quite different.
Holiday Shopping 2021 Expectations:
Still Lots of Online Holiday Shopping.
Online shopping has been the trend since April 2020, and it's looking like it will continue to thrive during the Christmas season this year. Plus, with so many stores having shortened working hours due to lack of staff or Covid policies, expect to shop more online this year.
Out of Stock.
Because so much merchandise is stuck off the coast of California right now (like over 100 cargo ships), you can expect stores to run out of stock quickly this year, especially with the holiday surge. Parker Baby has regretfully experienced this ourselves this year.
Delays, Delays, and More Delays...
The holiday surge is coming, and with so many products out of stock or slowwwwly restocking, you can expect some gifts to take much longer getting to you.
So How Should You Shop This Year?
There's no denying it: online shopping is gaining the upper hand this year. But with the delays and shortages, how exactly should you shop for your family this Christmas?
It's different from family to family, but where you shop usually boils down to price, shipping costs, quality, delays, and so much more. Here's what is important to my family (and to many others I know). Hopefully it helps you narrow down where you should shop this year.
Some Factors to Consider for Holiday Shopping...
My mom is a huge Amazon Prime advocate because of the free shipping, but she was surprised when I showed her that many small online businesses provide free shipping as well. At Parker Baby, we provide free shipping on orders over $50 (which means all our diaper backpacks are basically Prime!).
I remember when eCommerce was just beginning and returns were a pain in the you-know-what. Anyone else?! Thankfully, returns are way easier now. Most online stores will happily provide exchanges if there's something wrong with your order, and they usually have an easy-to-fill out return form on their websites.
Plus, if you ship through USPS (which should be labeled on the package), you can usually schedule a free pickup so you don't have to take a trip to the UPS store. And who wants to go out in the cold to return stuff?
Crowds & Lines.
Maybe you like going to the store and shopping with everyone else and fighting the checkout lines in Target and wrestling some middle-aged mom for that last Harry Potter Lego set. But if you don't particularly love that experience, welcome to the club of normal people.
Surveys say only 49% of shoppers will be shopping from physical stores this year, while 51% are opting for the online route. But at least you don't have to battle the lines (and risk seeing your old dentist at the mall) when you shop online.
What's In Stock.
This really depends store to store, but all I know is that it's super frustrating driving all the way to a store only the find the one thing you needed is out of stock. At least with online shopping, checking if something is available is much easier (and less time-consuming).
How to Prepare for 2021 Holiday Shopping...
Get an Early Start!
Monopolizing your closet for Christmas gifts is the move this year (as much as it pains me to say;). If you start shopping now, you'll likely beat most of the Christmas rush and have your gifts ready in time for you to enjoy all the holiday traditions without stress this year. Just picture all your friends scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping in December while you sit back and watch, drinking a peppermint mocha on your throne of dusty Christmas gifts.
Gift Cards for the Win.
If you didn't exactly get all your shopping done early this year, no need to panic. Thankfully, most online and physical stores have gift cards so your loved ones can pick out what they like and get it on their own terms (no stressful deadline to meet with these gifts). Our gift cards are so convenient, they can be sent straight to a loved one's inbox - no fuss and no stress!
Get Updates Before Anyone Else.
Many online stores have email lists where they inform their customers when products are restocking, if they have deals, etc. before anyone else. Sign up to the mailing lists of brands you know you'll be shopping with this year and stay in the know. At Parker Baby, we use our email list to let customers know when we're restocked and if we have stellar deals (hint: you can sign up for our mailing list at the bottom of this page;).
Do Your Holiday Shopping on Brand Sites Directly.
Online businesses will do much more to get your order out on time than bigger, corporate online businesses. At Parker Baby, we love having more control over the customer experience (so you get your gifts on time and are happy with what you get!).
Some Elite Holiday Shopping Tips...
These are some tips only the masters know (aka my mom), but I figured I'd share some of them to make your Christmas shopping a little bit easier this winter;-)
Use Comparison Sites Online:
Use Rewards Cards:
A lot of businesses provide special deals to their customers who use rewards cards, which are super helpful during the holidays. They also allow you to collect rewards you can redeem later on. Just make sure to pay off your balance monthly so you don't collect interest!
Involve Your Kids in All the Holiday Shopping:
Not exactly a shopping tip, but wise nonetheless. Growing up, my mom instilled in us a really strong giving mindset during Christmas by making us pick out gifts for other family members every year (siblings, parents, grandparents). Of course, when your kids are little, you'll pay for what they pick out. But as I got older, I began offering to pay for the gifts myself, and have been ever since.
This is a great way to help your kids understand what Christmas is really about. Gift them the joy of giving this year, and recruit your kiddos to shop for dad, or take them out individually so they can pick out a gift for their sibling (and spend some one-on-one mommy time;). Plus, you don't have to make so many shopping decisions yourself when they help!
And Finally... Focus on the Holiday Priorities.
It's easy to get stressed out about Christmas shopping (I do every. single. year.), but here's a gentle reminder to focus on the things that matter most. If you order a gift a few days too late for your father-in-law and it arrives just after Christmas, you will likely be forgiven.
Obviously, shortages are no excuse to draw up short on all gift-giving fronts (I'm talking to you husbands;), but the Christmas spirit won't die if you still have one or two gifts on the way on Christmas morning. Spending time with family and celebrating the birth of Jesus comes first, and as long as you're doing that, all will be merry and bright in your household:-)
Merry (early) Christmas and good luck to your soon-to-be converted closets!
Here are some of Parker Baby's favorite festive picks (all are in stock right now, but might not be closer to Christmas!)
Order today and start your Christmas shopping nice and early this year;)
^Rose Swaddle Set, perfect festive swaddles for your baby girl (& classy year-round;)
^festive Crimson Quilt, made of 100% natural muslin cotton (so it's breathable and warm for your snuggly babe)
^Green Buffalo Quilt, perfect to keep your little stud cozy this winter.
^Estes Bandana Bib Set, perfect for your little drooler to stay festive this Christmas.
^Anne Set Bow Clips, to keep your little princess festive this year (& keep all those fly-aways out of her face).