With November here, some stores are already starting to roll out Black Friday deals, and while the holiday shopping season is a busy time for retailers, they're making some changes this year because of the pandemic.
"Retailers are starting their deals a lot earlier this year," said Samantha Gordon, the Deals Editor at Consumer Reports. "It's to keep crowds down and keep shoppers as safe as possible. Also to spread out the shipping and avoid those delays as much as possible."
Gordon said the in-store and Black Friday deals will also change.
"There won't be as many of those doorbusters," Gordon said. "Those are going to shift online."
Stores like Target and Walmart have already begun holiday discounts, but consumers won't see them in the store as quickly.
"They're starting their sales online and waiting a few days to launch the same sales in stores," Gordon said. "You get the same prices online as you do in stores. Sometimes there are online exclusive deals and in-store exclusive deals, but I don't think you're going to see quite as much of that this year."
Gordon said that, with shipping delays during the pandemic, shoppers should try to buy gifts ahead of time.
"You need to start shopping early," Gordon said. "Because things are so different this year, a lot of stores are calling it 'Ship-ageddon.' To mitigate that, they're starting the deals early."
Consumer Reports said it expects that some of the best deals of the season will be offered this month.
"That includes popular gifts like headphones and televisions and cookware," Gordon said. "But we also expect a lot of price drops on large appliances and mattresses."
Right now, there are more deals available for new tech toys instead of home products. Gordon said that Consumer Reports is helping people shop around by comparing the prices at different retailers.
If you are in-store, Gordon said, there are several apps that will check if that product is on sale elsewhere.
"You can scan a barcode or QR code, and they'll pull up all the prices available," Gordon said. "They may also be able to show you discounts and store coupons."
Gordon said that some of the most popular smartphone apps are BuyVia, Shopkick, ShopSavvy and Shopular. If you're shopping online, check out Google Shopping, PriceGrabber and Shopzilla.
There's also an expectation this year that people might actually buy more this holiday season.
"There aren't going to be as many big family gatherings," Gordon said, " so people are instead going to spend the money they would have spent on travel on gifts for their loved ones."
If you don't see deals on specific types of products, Gordon said to keep checking throughout November.
"There will definitely be a boost of sales around Black Friday just because that's what people expect," Gordon said. "But every week retailers are launching new deals."