App sale

Holiday sales will start earlier than ever this year

The holiday creep is real. Halloween costumes fill store shelves in August, everything is on the pumpkin-flavored menu on Labor Day, and Christmas gifts and decorations are everywhere a month before Thanksgiving. It is often too much, too soon.

The Wirecutter Deals team has been covering holiday deals and sales for years, and we’ve seen the sale season roll out alongside those lattes and jingle bells. While the frantic marketing language to buy early is frustrating and pervasive, Wirecutter’s research-based heading gives us a lucid approach to holiday sales so you can avoid exaggerated markdowns and focus on the real deals. Here’s the truth behind the ever-expanding shopping season.

Most sales stink, but some early sales are worth it

The vast majority of sales aren’t worth it. Less than 1% of the selling prices we seek meet our criteria of product quality, retailer reliability and price quality, all year round. However, some early holiday sales are worth it. If you’re someone who likes to do their holiday shopping in advance, we recommend looking for early sales starting in the first or second week of October.

How to make the most of advance sales

First of all, don’t take the first vacation announcements at face value. Strikethrough list prices on sales promotions are not an accurate representation of an item’s typical total price – they are designed to make discounts look better than they are.

We also recommend that you compare prices. When you see a sale price, start by comparing the price of that item at major retailers. Most major retailers match each other to some extent around holiday sales, giving you more choice. A simple in-browser search shows you shopping results from a variety of retailers, and you can compare prices for options you know and trust.

Using the listings feature on Amazon is another way to get an idea of ​​prices. Remember that simply having an item in an Amazon listing does not obligate you to purchase from Amazon. Other retailers may match offer prices. The purpose of the list is to select what you want, track prices (lists tell you if the price of an item has dropped since you added it) and, if you wish, receive alerts when prices drop (this requires the Amazon shopping app).

If you want to take it a step further, use third-party price trackers such as camelcamelcamel and keep one. These trackers work exclusively on Amazon, but since you know that Amazon is likely to match prices from other retailers, a good price on Amazon is just a starting point. You can track the price on Amazon, see if the deal is worth it, and return to your chosen retailer to see if they have the item on sale as well.

Why should you do your holiday shopping before Halloween?

Retailers pushed back holiday sales to early October for a number of reasons. Extending the holiday shopping season is undoubtedly to their financial advantage – more time to shop likely means more shopping overall. Other reasons are of external origin: inflation and the supply chain. Both factors could affect prices between early October and late November, making an early October buy a bit of a gamble. Will prices continue to skyrocket, stay the same, or drop? Fortunately, some retailers anticipated this and changed their policies accordingly. In 2021, Best Buy and Target offered some form of price protection on purchases made during their first holiday sales. We expect them to do it again. This means you can buy something in October without worrying about the price dropping in November.

Everything from heat waves to armed conflict continues to affect the global delivery of goods. The past few years have shown the unreliability of our global system, and because we can’t know in advance what’s going to happen, buying early protects you from any issues that may arise.

Buying early also protects against inflation and additional price increases before Black Friday. And again, price protection policies protect eligible items from price drops, so you’re covered on both sides.

This article was edited by Annemarie Conte and Ben Frumin.