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Bookstores, Other Retailers Urge Shoppers to Do Early Holiday Shopping This Year

  • Independent bookstores encourage shoppers to complete holiday purchases early both to boost the businesses’ cash flow and to ensure they can get the titles they want
  • Retailers have been pushing early shopping due to weaker supply chains, COVID-19 restrictions, and other factors that could disrupt last-minute shopping
  • Outlook for holiday spending remains uncertain as millions of households face financial uncertainty

When it comes to holiday shopping, plenty of people find themselves scrambling to get gifts for all of their loved ones in the middle of December. An effort by independent bookstores, dubbed “Buy Early – October is the New December,” aims to discourage such last-minute shopping and attract shoppers earlier in the year.

The American Booksellers Association launched the campaign in response to anticipated supply chain and COVID-19 disruptions later this year. These include shipping delays, lower printing capacities, and social distancing restrictions that limit how many people can shop in person in a bookstore. Independent bookstore owners are also warning that shopping closer to the holidays could limit the availability of certain services, such as gift wrapping or one-one-one consultations with booksellers for recommended titles.

The effort also aims to encourage shoppers to support their local bookstores, as many have often seen serious declines in sales this year. ABA says early shopping will help bookstores reach their profitability goals in the fourth quarter and remain in business in 2021.

Other retailers have made similar appeals, saying early shoppers can take advantage of available inventory while avoiding crowded stores or shipping delays that may occur later in the year. Many shoppers have already gotten started on their shopping due to pandemic-related boredom or other causes.

The outlook for holiday spending, which accounts for about one-fifth of annual retail sales in the United States, remains uncertain. Households that have faced less disruption due to the pandemic have saved up more money due to canceled vacations and other expense reductions earlier in the year, giving them more spending power for the holidays.

However, other households are certain to be more cautious due to unemployment, fear of losing their job, or other financial concerns. A recent survey by Deloitte found that one in three respondents was worse off financially than they were a year ago, with 38 percent planning to spend less money for the holidays.


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