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The holiday shopping season is officially underway, and now, more than ever, shopping early is key.

Shopping during the COVID-19 era is an evolving endeavor for both retailers and consumers as local restrictions, public health guidance, and personal opinions continue to shift, and in some cases, clash. Halloween, Christmas, and all fall and winter holidays will be affected in countless ways, and the National Retail Federation (NRF) has launched a new consumer education campaign to help families adjust shopping habits called “New Holiday Traditions.” Ads will run across digital, social media, radio, and connected TV through mid-November.

“This is going to be a historic holiday season and while some memorable traditions may change, the tradition of retailers supporting their customers and their communities is stronger than ever,” comments NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “That is why we encourage consumers to adopt two new traditions this year — shop safe and shop early — so we can all celebrate a happy and healthy holiday. Retailers are prepared for an early start to the shopping season, offering discounts earlier to ensure consumers can find the gifts they want, in stock at the price they want to pay, delivered at the time they want to receive them.”

According to the NRF, November is historically the month in which most families begin their holiday shopping.

“In a year that has been full of uncertainty, we encourage consumers to avoid the last-minute stresses of the holiday season like long lines and shipping delays,” Shay says. “Retailers are ready with inventory and sales, and there’s no reason to wait until Thanksgiving weekend to kick off your gift shopping.”

Consumers seeking the best in this year’s toys and games are encouraged to check out the Toy Insider’s 15th Annual Holiday Gift Guide. The guide will appear in print with the November issue of Parents magazine, hitting newsstands beginning Oct. 5. The guide features nearly 160 toys in its print edition and more than 300 toys online from more than 110 toy companies.