Costco aisle with Christmas gifts trees and decor

This Year Holiday Sales Starting Earlier Than Ever

Holiday creep is real. As Halloween costumes began filling store shelves in August, Starbucks was rolling out Pumpkin Spice Lattes—earlier than in any year prior. Christmas gifts and decor began appearing in my Costco a full two months before Thanksgiving. It really does feel like too much, too soon.

Costco aisle with Christmas gifts trees and decor

Team EC and I have been covering deals and holiday sales for decades. We’ve seen the holiday sale season creep up right along with everything pumpkin spice and jingle bells.

While frenzied marketing language screams in your ears to shop early, our goal is to offer a reasoned approach to holiday sales so you can avoid overblown markdowns and focus on the real deals. They’re out there, but it takes skilled discrimination to separate the junk from authentic bargains.

Here’s the truth

Behind the ever-expanding shopping season is this sad truth: The vast majority of sales aren’t worth it. Less than 1% of the sale prices we research meet our standards (quality, retailer reliability, and value).

And then there are early holiday sales that are worth it. If you like to get your holiday shopping done early, sales in early October could fit the bill.

What to look for

Target

Target will is bringing back its Deal Days sale event early in October. The sale is open to all shoppers, will include a price match guarantee for many items—if the price goes lower before 12/24, Target will refund the difference. 

Amazon

Amazon has announced its own event for Prime members, the Prime Early Access Sale. (Oct 11, 12). Preview promotions for the Early Access Sale are live now.

How to make the most of early sales

Be skeptical

Don’t take early holiday ads at face value. The list prices with strike-throughs on sale promos aren’t always accurate representations of the typical full price of an item—they’re designed to make the discounts look better than they are.

Comparison shop

When you see a sale price, start by comparing the price of that item across large retailers. Most major retailers match one another to some degree around holiday sales, which gives you more choices. A simple browser search can show you shopping results from various retailers, and you can compare prices from options you know and trust.

Use lists and trackers

Using the lists function on Amazon is another way to get a sense of pricing. Remember, simply having an item in an Amazon list doesn’t lock you into buying from Amazon. Other retailers may be matching deal-pricing. The purpose of the list is to curate what you want, track pricing (lists tell you if an item’s price has dropped since you added it), and if desired, receive alerts when prices drop (this requires the Amazon shopping app).

If you want to go one step further, use third-party price tracking tools like Camelcamelcamel and Keepa. Those trackers work exclusively on Amazon, but since you know that Amazon is likely to match other retailers’ pricing, 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 circle back to the retailer of your choice to see if they’re also offering the item on sale.

Reasons to shop before Halloween

Retailers have pushed holiday sales to early October for several reasons. Expanding the holiday shopping season is to their financial advantage—more time to shop likely means we’ll comply with more total shopping.

Other reasons are externally driven—1)inflation and 2) the supply chain. Both factors could affect pricing between early October and late November, making purchases in early October a good bet. Will prices continue to soar higher, stay the same, or decrease? Thankfully, some retailers have anticipated this and changed their policies accordingly.

In 2021, both Best Buy and Target offered some form of price protection on purchases made during their early holiday sales. We anticipate them doing so again. That means you could buy something in October and not worry about the price going down in November.

Everything from heat waves to armed conflicts continues to affect the global delivery of goods. The last few years have shown the unreliability of our global system, and because we can’t know what will happen in advance, purchasing early often protects you from any problems that might occur.

Purchasing early protects against inflation and additional price hikes before Black Friday. Remember that price protection policies protect eligible items against price drops, so you’re covered from both ends. Just make sure you retain tags, packaging, and receipts!

 

 

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3 replies
  1. Karen says:

    Hi! Love your columns!! Tried to find how to clean shower doors, but when I clicked on the link, got Christmas shopping ideas. Really need the shower door info! 😉 Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Scroll to the top of any page at EverydayCheapskate.com. Click on the little orange magnifying glass (search) icon. Type “shower” in the box. Click again. That opens a dropdown with titles of applicable posts Click again and it will open an entire page. There you go!

      Reply
  2. Pamela Sheppard says:

    I hear many people complaining about Christmas items in the store “early” but I personally love it. Where I work we START putting out Christmas items in July. Just a small amount. Unless Christmas/Holiday items force stores to pack away common items customers use year round I have no complaint.

    Reply

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