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If you’ve been in the market for a new car, an iPhone 13 or pretty much anything lately, you may have run into a few roadblocks — namely, shortages, shipping delays or massive markups. It’s not your imagination; we’re experiencing serious supply chain issues right now, and they’re poised to sabotage your holiday shopping — especially if you wait too long, experts warn.
But hold up — what are supply chain issues, anyway? Essentially, they’re a disruption in the production and delivery of many of the items you use every day, like electronics, household goods and even food. It happens when there’s simply not enough supply to meet the demand — and in many cases, not enough people to get those goods delivered to you.
“It initially started with the pandemic. Consumers were over-ordering on key supplies, and that disrupted the supply chain,” explains consumer expert Jeff Pedowitz to Yahoo Life.
“Another factor has been a lack of transportation capability. When you don't have truck drivers and other critical workers, or when ports are quarantined or have masking requirements, people can't get the goods and services to where they need to go.”
Here's how supply chain issues affect your holiday shopping
This phenomenon is affecting some industries more than others. Things like tech, toys, exercise equipment and kitchen gear have been hit hard. And at the end of the supply chain, of course, is the consumer — that’s you. So this year, waiting till Black Friday to shop for gifts and holiday entertaining supplies just isn’t gonna cut it.
The good news? A lot of e-retailers are rising to the challenge with improved online experiences as well as deep discounts and exclusive deals for early shoppers. Walmart announced earlier this month that it's taking “additional steps to navigate the hurdles and minimize disruption, so we can deliver for our customers this holiday season.”
And now, the federal government has even stepped in. On October 13, President Biden announced plans to help "troubleshoot and alleviate many of the bottlenecks" caused by the supply chain disruption after meeting with executives from Walmart and other retailers. He added that Walmart, FedEx and UPS would all increase their operations to keep inventories up and facilitate as-prompt-as-possible deliveries this holiday season.
But experts agree that you still need to shop right now if you want to get ahead of the holidays. “Consumers will be the biggest winners this holiday season if they can be proactive," said Kristen Gall, Rakuten Rewards Shopping & Retail Expert, to Yahoo Life.
Below are some of the most important items to buy early this year, according to our experts. You can snag all these things right now at Walmart — and most of them are even on sale:
Personal electronics are some of the most popular gifts each year. They also happen to be most affected by the supply chain disruption. Most electronics in the U.S. rely on key parts, including chips, from overseas suppliers. They weren’t being delivered during Covid lockdowns, leading to a chip shortage.
“Anything that you want to buy that's electronic in nature, you should try and order now because chances are, they’re going to run out before Christmas,” says Pedowitz.
Anzek Mini-2 TWS 5.0 Bluetooth Earbuds — on sale for $17 (was $80)
One of the hottest gifts of the season this year is a solid set of earbuds. Apple AirPods Pro ($180) and Google Pixel Buds A-Series ($99) will be among the most in-demand. But right now, Walmart also has the Anzek Mini-2 TWS 5.0 Bluetooth Earbuds, a top-of-the-line, top-rated set that gives its peers a run for their money. And right now, these best-in-class buds that come in a charging case are 79 percent off — they're just $17! Let’s hear it for early holiday deals!
iPhone 13 Pro 128GB Graphite — starting at $26 a month
Apple just announced it’ll be cutting down on the production of the Phone 13 this year because of the chip shortage. But Walmart has the iPhone 13 Pro in stock starting at $26 a month (for 30 months) for a 128-gig model with service from AT&T (a Verizon-serviced iPhone 13 is also available starting at $32). It’s available in blue, gold, gray or silver.
Shop it: Apple iPhone 13, $26 a month, walmart.com
The chip shortage is affecting gaming consoles too, including XBox Series S, which will be in major demand this year. Walmart has the Microsoft Xbox Series S 512 GB All-Digital Gaming Console in stock and on sale — it’s 24 percent off, so you save $130! It includes a wireless controller with silicone skin and batteries, 4K HD streaming, Wi-Fi and a charger accessories set.
Nintendo Switch with Neon Blue/Red JoyCons Bundle — save over $100
Chip shortages are also making it virtually impossible for Nintendo to produce its mega-popular Nintendo Switch gaming console, according to reports. But right now it's very possible to score a Nintendo Switch with Neon Blue/Red JoyCons Bundle at Walmart — and it’s 36 percent off! This new version comes with an updated battery life of nine hours, a vibrant 6.2-inch screen and an extra warranty.
It turns out the chip shortage is affecting small kitchen appliances too. If air fryers and coffee makers are on your holiday gift list, do not delay! You’ll also want to order anything you need to make a great holiday meal before it’s all sold out. Online shoppers are already coming in droves, and brands may not have enough inventory to meet the demand.
“According to Rakuten Intelligence, we anticipate e-commerce as a whole to see a 26 percent growth compared to the previous year,” said Gall.
Keurig K-Duo Essentials Single Serve & Carafe Coffee Maker — 20 percent off
There has been huge demand for Keurigs since the beginning of the pandemic, and the company announced that it’s been struggling to deliver during the supply chain crisis. Walmart has plenty of Keurigs in stock, and this hybrid Keurig K-Duo Essentials Single Serve & Carafe Coffee Maker is 20 percent off right now! Whether you need it to keep you fueled or to gift to a coffee lover in your life, grab it now.
Get that turkey done right! This 18-quart Oster Roaster Oven with Self-Basting Lid is in stock at Walmart and selling out fast. Using a roaster oven cuts down cooking time by about 30 minutes, and this one even has a lid that bastes the turkey for you, so it’s pretty foolproof. Get it right now for 37 percent off!
Lodge 6 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven in Blue — 30 percent off
Yams, mushrooms, stuffing — whatever it is, a cast iron Dutch oven makes it better. And this one is so pretty, it makes a show-stopping gift too. The Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven is 30 percent off in blue. Get this top-rated holiday essential while it’s in stock.
T-fal Easy Care Nonstick Cookware, 20 piece Set — 13 percent off
Don’t get caught empty-handed when you’ve got mouths to feed this holiday season! Refresh your cookware supply with this 20-piece T-fal Easy Care Nonstick Cookware Set, which is $10 off. It’s got everything but the kitchen sink!
Attention, parents, grandparents and Secret Santas: expect a toy shortage this holiday season. “Consumers should get their holiday shopping done early if they want the best chance at having all of their gifts for the holidays, especially for hot or trending items like toys,” confirms Gall.
Here are just a few of the hottest toys to score this year before they sell out.
Squishmallows are selling like hot cakes, as Yahoo reported earlier this month. These cuddly, collectible plush toys — 2021’s answer to Beanie Babies, with their names and bios included — will be scarce as we move closer to the holidays, but Walmart has a bunch in stock. The popular and adorable Aqua the Sloth is just $14.
Gall says that the Pop Its will also be red hot this year, and Walmart has this three-piece set on sale for $4 off. This sensory toy is anticipated to be a major craze this year and will be hard to find if you wait too long.
Parents will be after VTech KidiZoom cameras this year, says Gall, but right now this VTech KidiZoom Camera Pix Plus With Panoramic and Talking Photos is all yours at Walmart for just $40.
Baby Alive Lulu Achoo Doll — 25 percent off
Following in a long line of interactive dolls like Betsy Wetsy and Tickle Me Elmo is the uber-popular Baby Alive Lulu Achoo Doll, which — you guessed it — sneezes! Walmart has this baby doll for $13 off.
Halo Rise Above Supreme Big Wheel Scooter — just $40
Pedowitz told Yahoo Life that bicycles and other modes of recreational transportation were in high demand during Covid lockdowns, and the supply chain issues are getting worse for these kinds of gifts this year. The Halo Rise Above Supreme Big Wheel Scooter is one of the most popular gifts on wheels this holiday season — and Walmart’s got it for just $40!
Another hot commodity during Covid lockdowns — and a casualty of the supply chain struggle — is at-home exercise equipment, which people are still investing in, says Pedowitz. “When you're not spending 5, 10, 20 hours a week in that commute back and forth to the office, you have more free time. What are you going to do? You're going to spend more time exercising.”
Grab these Walmart fitness stars while they’re still in stock.
MaxKare Elliptical Machine — $440 off
Looking for an amazing deal on a major piece of workout equipment? Look no further than the MaxKare Elliptical Machine, on sale at Walmart now for nearly 70 percent off! This one has a near-perfect rating too.
Yoga lovers aren’t the only ones who benefit from a stability ball. It’s great for lots of core-strengthening exercises, and this Best Choice Products Yoga Balance Exercise Ball comes with two resistance bands for a full-body workout. It’s also 44 percent off!
The ever-adored Cubii JR1 Compact Seated Elliptical Set has tons of five-star reviews for good reason: it lets you get in a great workout while you sit on the couch, at your desk, or anywhere, really. This set comes with dumbbells and a workout mat too, and it’s the least expensive of the bunch.
Heka Fitness Trampoline 40" Mini Foldable Re-Bounder Trampoline — 23 percent off
Jump for joy, because the HEKA Fitness Trampoline is on sale! The compact wonder makes for an unexpected gift — and an even more unexpectedly great workout. This one has a safety hand rail and it’s on sale for 23 percent off.
This strength-training superstar with more than a thousand five-star reviews is 17 percent off and just waiting to fulfill your holiday wish list. It has six weight settings that start at just eight pounds.
Here’s a shocking one. Pedowitz says diamonds are scarce during the supply chain disruption, so if you’re looking to get a girl a new best friend, better act fast.
“Diamond jewelry for Christmas will be short this year. It's not because there's a shortage of global diamonds. It's because the jewelry manufacturers are already behind on making their wares,” he says. “It’s not a lack of raw material. It's refining and processing that raw material to get it to the customer.”
We found a few amazing diamond pieces at Walmart that are actually on sale!
1/4 Ct Diamond Screw Back Studs 14k White Gold — 76 percent off
This perfect pair of diamond studs is a whopping $530 off. You read that right. At just $170, these white gold wonders will shine under the tree this year. Plus, the diamonds are lab-grown and eco-friendly.
Be still our hearts: This sweet pendant necklace for the mom in your life is $50 off! It’s made with 0.03-carats of diamond and is 18-karat gold plated.
1 1/5ct Heat Treated Black Diamond 3 Stone Ring 10K Black Gold — 65 percent off
Black diamonds, baby! These heat-treated diamonds are set in a 10-karat black gold band, and the entire bauble has had $678 slashed from its price!
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