How holiday shoppers can sidestep supply chain shortages, get gifts on time

CHICAGO (WLS) -- This year, you have likely already heard that you need to shop early. But even if you haven't gotten one gift yet, you still have time.

The I-Team is finding that there are plenty of things you can do to avoid supply chain troubles as the holiday shopping season kicks off.

"I'm always too late, I've been trying to think about it a little bit," shopper D'yana McDougal-Lee said.

Shoppers are ready to start crossing gifts off their holiday wish lists before it's too late.

"I think my Christmas list is pretty big so I like to start earlier," shopper Kaeli Meno told the I-Team.

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And shopper Shaquille Calhuan said, "I try to go as early as possible because everyone does last-minute shopping, so I try to do it before, you know, the rush comes."

But will your online shopping plans be squashed by pandemic-related supply chain delays? Experts say a lack of truck drivers, warehouse workers and computer chip shortages are largely to blame for the backups.

"Well, the supply chain is everything from where the fundamental building blocks of your Christmas gifts start out to your doorstep - and right now, all of those things have challenges at every step of the way," said Taylor Schreiner, director for Adobe Digital Insights.

He advises that if you see an item you like on the shelves, get it now.

If something is being offered online for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, make sure it is "in stock" before buying it. That should mean it will be delivered before Christmas.

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"The cutoff for shipping things is honestly around the 10th or 12th of December," said Lisa Rowan, a savings expert at Forbes Advisor. "So if you're not sure if you want to trust the holiday shipping timelines, I really recommend trying to buy online and pick up in store."

Even if the item isn't available right away at your nearest store, there's another solution. Try the "ship-to-store" option, which can also save several days of waiting.

"The 'ship to store' option is really great because it is going from the big company warehouse to the company store, and so it avoids that part which is the toughest, which is getting it from the warehouse or the store to you, so you are cutting out a step," Rowan said.

There are also ways to avoid the supply chain altogether. Instead of shipping a gift to your door, virtual video game gifts can be purchased and downloaded with a click.

"There are a lot of great video games out there that are 100% downloadable and nothing's going to get in the way of those being delivered," Shreiner said.

You can also get experience-based gifts, such as travel vouchers or restaurant gift cards.

"I'm a fan of gift cards, honestly," McDougal-Lee told the I-Team.

Even gift cards for everyday expenses such as gas or groceries can be a thoughtful gift this year, as consumers deal with pandemic-related inflation.

"Even like the homemade certificate to go do something together," Rowan added. "I think that's a great gift this year. But I'll take any gifts, honestly. Let's be real."

Another option if you're worried at checkout that your gift won't arrive in time? Experts say you can also choose to pay more for expedited shipping options.
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