Why People Are Holiday Shopping Earlier Than Ever

Ah, the holidays. They're never complete without toasted hot chocolate, car rides through colorfully-lit neighborhoods, and of course, shopping. Lots and lots of shopping. In fact, there's an entire day dedicated to holiday shopping in the United States, where bargains (and fistfights for the last-stocked item) are widespread throughout every major department store.

Black Friday — the day following Thanksgiving — has become one of the busiest shopping days in the United States (per Snopes). While there are items you shouldn't bother shopping for on Black Friday, there are countless door-buster deals that often extend throughout the weekend and beyond, reaching Cyber Monday (which is basically a Black Friday for online shoppers). According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 180 million Americans participated in Black Friday weekend in 2021, with over $886.7 billion spent.

It's usually uncommon to see holiday shoppers checking off their Christmas lists long before the season begins. However, that's changing. Haven't started your holiday shopping yet? You may be a rare gem. Data from NBC News indicates that many Americans may be holiday shopping this year before Thanksgiving even begins — for one main reason.

Due to the pandemic, shoppers have a better idea of supply and demand

The past decade has seen a massive shift in how consumers shop, as vice president and leader of Deloitte's retail practice, Rod Sides, told NBC News. This is primarily due to spending trends moving from in-store to online. In fact, Cyber Monday saw an even more significant number of sales than Black Friday in recent years (per Life Wire). This may be largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a substantial reason why Americans are shopping sooner than ever this year.

"We all went through the pandemic. We all went through the great toilet paper storage," Sides told NBC. "Consumers are now much more aware of supply chains." Because of this, shoppers are starting to stock-pile gifts. According to a survey published by Oracle Retail, about 20% of Americans said they plan on ordering more gifts than intended just in case some are delayed or canceled because of the all-too-common global shipping setbacks.

The recent increase in flexible remote work may also be a factor in why holiday shopping is starting earlier this year. According to Forbes, online store traffic may increase during the weekdays, as consumers are online at home more frequently, getting ahead of their shopping and avoiding the dreaded long lines. This is not to say you should shop while you work, as staying productive while working from home is super important, but browsing your favorite online stores during your lunch break is always an entertaining way to decompress (and save you time and money).

How to get the best bang for your buck while holiday shopping

Now that we know many people are holiday shopping earlier, how do we fix the ever-so-common issue of overspending? According to a survey shared by CNBC, a whopping 86% of people between the ages of 23 to 38 felt like they spent way more than they intended on holiday gifts last year. Of that 86%, 1 in 5 spent $500 over their allotted budget (which is like, 80 Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks).

Prepping before you shop is a great idea for those who often go in blind and buy everything in sight. Tracking your spending has never been easier with mobile iOS apps like Santa's bag, which helps you manage your gifts, receipts, and spending. It's also helpful to make a shopping list and stick with it so that you don't "accidentally" throw more items in your cart than intended (via Discover).

For those who really get in the holiday spirit and love to give gifts to everyone in your life — including your mailman and sanitation workers — you may want to dial it back and only spend on those who are the closest to you (per Finance Buzz). It's nothing personal, but it's 2022 — we're shopping smarter (and saving more money) this year.