Inflation affecting your holiday shopping? You are not alone

Planning to get your holiday shopping in this weekend or to hit the stores Monday? These tips will keep inflation from dragging you down.

After alarmingly low sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday and lower-than-usual traffic throughout December, it’s become clear inflation has kept most people waiting until the very last minute to do their holiday shopping.  c

At a current rate of 7.1%, inflation is remarkably down from June’s 9.1% but is still more than three times as high as the Federal Reserve’s goal of 2%. In other words, while inflation isn’t currently rising notably, it’s also not falling significantly month-to-month, either.

This trend has understandably left consumers feeling apprehensive about any nonessential spending. The Friday before Christmas, Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas have historically always been busy shopping days, but with inflation and fears of a recession looming sooner than later, it can be challenging to know how best to maximize your spending now.

Inflation, holiday shopping,
One tip for shopping wisely during this final major shopping weekend of the year is to make a list. (Photo credit: Getty/ Caia Image)

Should you spring for big-ticket items, in the event prices skyrocket again? Should you go for experiences over items altogether? In our guide below, you will find timely tips for shopping wisely during this final major shopping weekend of the year. 

Set a budget

According to Wallet Hub, individual consumers on average are projected to spend roughly $833 on holiday presents this year. The personal finance website also notes that the average American household owes around $9,000 in credit card debt and that most develop credit card debt in the last three months of the year. To avoid totally breaking the bank this year, the site also recommends taking an honest look at your finances and determining how much you can afford to spend or pay off in a reasonable amount of time. This will help you avoid falling prey to too many of the holiday deals that will be flashing in your face as you shop — because it’s not a deal if you can’t afford it. 

Make a list 

You can set a budget and end up blowing it all on one gift if you don’t take the extra step to really plan out your shopping. Figure out exactly who you want to shop for and exactly what you’re going to buy. Laying out a plan like this can help you further budget and will keep you on task, getting you out of the shops and back home with your loved ones in no time. 

Find the deals

Once you determine for whom and for what you’re shopping, seek out coupons, deals and promotions. Check your email for any last-minute holiday promotions on items on your list. Turn to consumer savings apps, which tend to have exclusive deals and cash-back options, as well as details on other current promotions. A few we recommend are Honey, Dosh, Rakuten, DollarSprout Rewards, Capital One Shopping, and for printable coupons,  

Pay ahead

Many major retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Target offer in-store pickup the same day on items purchased online. Using this option when possible will not only save you time waiting in long lines but will also prevent you from perusing the aisles and potentially going rogue by overspending.

Go for quality over quantity

Going for quality over quantity is great life advice in general, but they are sage words for this holiday season, in particular. If there is one high-quality item on someone’s list you’re shopping for this year, springing for that may be a better bet than trying to fulfill his or her entire list. 

Pay attention to return policies 

You think you know their size. You thought they said they wanted those earbuds in red. You could have sworn they said they loved the perfume you’re about to purchase. But perhaps you’re not 100% sure. Doublecheck those return policies, so it’s not money completely lost if, for whatever reason, the gift you buy doesn’t work out. 

Hit up their Cash App

Last time we checked, no one turned their nose up at an unexpected Cash App notification from a loved one. If your budget is tight and your time is limited, you could easily just give cash or gift cards this season.  

Prioritize experiences over items

Gifts are a great way to show someone how much you love them, but so can taking the time to facilitate a meaningful holiday season experience. If your holiday shopping budget is extremely tight this year, you could opt to do something with your loved ones instead. Treat them to a holiday-specific experience such as a Christmas lights walk or viewing the lights at the local zoo. You could also host a White Elephant gift exchange with your family or friends, leaving each of you responsible for buying just one gift. 

Remember, you’re not alone

Sometimes, not being able to buy everything we hoped we could for our loved ones can be defeating and disappointing. But just know that in a year that saw inflation as high as 9.1% and at a time when more than half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, you are not alone. 

Kay Wicker is a lifestyle writer for theGrio covering health, wellness, travel, beauty, fashion, and the myriad ways Black people live and enjoy their lives. She has previously created content for magazines, newspapers, and digital brands. 

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