If the supply chain issues are as dire as expected, instead of a “ho ho ho” holiday season, shoppers may find it’s more of a “uh oh, oy” time of the year, with fewer presents around the tree.
And so experts are suggesting to shop early, just to err on the side of caution – and look out for deals as prices may be higher across the board.
Citing the chip shortage and transportation issues (including backlogged seaports and truck driver strikes), Mark Fried, president of TFG Wealth Management, says you can expect “limited supply” for products like consumer electronics this year, both at retail and online: “The concern is once what’s on the shelves now may not be restocked before Black Friday and if you’re ordering online you should also start earlier as we don’t know if items are going to show up at your home in time.”
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“If shopping online, it’s also important to buy from an established company and do your research about their ability to deliver on time,” Fried adds, in a telephone interview with USA TODAY. “Stores will take your money, sure, but you don’t want your parcels showing up on January 15th.”
Adam Kamins, director of economic research at Moody’s Analytics, mirrors Fried’s caution about “brick-and-mortar stores experiencing shortages of many items” and says “you may be waiting for a package for longer than expected” for online shopping, plus he says prices for goods will likely be higher.
“It would be wise to start shopping earlier this year because the challenges of getting items from one place to another are going to cause delivery times and some prices to rise noticeably,” says Kamins. “Many stores are holding sales earlier and trying to shift consumers away from highly-seasonal patterns in anticipation of product shortages and potential staffing challenges.”
With this in mind, free apps, websites and browser extensions are designed to sniff out a good deal – and you need not wait for Black Friday (Nov. 26) or Cyber Monday (Nov. 29) to take advantage of them.
► Black Friday 2021 deals are here: Shop epic savings at Walmart, Target, Best Buy
Since 1999, Slickdeals.net (has evolved into the largest deal-sharing community on the web with as many as 12 million “savvy shoppers” who use the platform to share deals they’ve found, says the company.
Deals get vetted by the community through votes and comments and the best ones often move up to the Popular Deals forum. For example, perhaps there’s 40% off a 75-inch TV for a limited time or a two-for-one deal on brand-name tracksuits. The best of the Popular Deals are then screened by Deal editors, who may put it on the app’s coveted front page.
There’s an app (for iOS and Android), website and browser extension, the latter of which keeps an eye on your online purchases and notifies you if there’s a coupon you can apply. Plus, it also calls out the hottest deals at that particular retailer.
In fact, the just-launched Slickdeals Rewards is a program designed to save even more for those who install the browser extension (Chrome, Edge and Firefox). Slickdeals Rewards enables you to receive cash back at participating retailers, as well as earning points for every purchase you make that you can redeem for gift cards.
You can also set up a Deal Alert on a specific product and get notified if it drops in price. You can configure your alerts based on keywords, stores and categories.
Another highly recommended app (for iOS and Android) and website, Flipp not only curates all your local store circulars, those weekly ads, so you can flip through them all in one place (and not get any newsprint on your hands), but it also highlights the best deals for you.
Just type in your zip code the first time you use Flipp and then it lets you browse or search for deals at stores near you (more than 2,000 retailers are supported). All the big names are included – whether you’re shopping for weekly groceries, household goods, fashion items or tech gift ideas – plus you can find and use coupons right from within the app.
Tap and hold to learn more about a product or tap quickly to virtually clip it into your shopping list.
Walmart Black Friday 2021 deals are here: Save on AirPods, Samsung TVs and Shark Vacuums
An integrated “smart” shopping list is worth noting, too: add an item you want to buy, such as “AirPods,” and it will tell you what stores have them on sale at that moment and when those deals expire.
A new “Watch List,” on the other hand, tracks the deals you want on specific items and Flipp will notify you when new deals arrive.
The Flipp app also holds your loyalty cards, virtually, to scan upon checkout – instead of carrying a pocket – or purse – full of plastic.
You’ve probably heard of (or used) “cash back” platforms like Rakuten, Swagbucks, Ibotta and RetailMeNot, but don’t ignore CouponCabin, as you can earn up to 20% cash back on online purchases (from more than 4,000 stores), apply coupons and promo codes while shopping and also print coupons you can use in-store.
Another driver to use CouponCabin is exclusive coupons you won’t find with other apps, too, says the company, such as $100 back on orders over $100 from popular stores like Coach, Home Depot, and Macy’s. These deals are refreshed daily.
Other features include the ability to easily share deals with friends and family (maybe to drop a hint about you want for the holidays!); an optional browser extension (called Sidekick) that will alert you to available cash back and coupons in real time; and users can choose even receive cash back in Bitcoin, if desired, after Slickdeals commissioned a survey with The Harris Poll about the cryptocurrency craze.
Follow Marc on Twitter for his “Tech Tip of the Day” posts: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast at https://marcsaltzman.com/podcasts. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Holiday shopping: Apps to help score Black Friday, Cyber Monday deals