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Holiday shopping tips during the coronavirus pandemic

The countdown to Christmas is starting early this year. Last minute holiday shoppers might want to rethink their strategy.

SAN ANTONIO — Black Friday is that special sales day many bargain hunters look forward to all year. No need to wait until then this year.

“The holiday shopping season is shaping up to be very different than anything we’ve seen in years prior due to the pandemic,” said Casey Runyon of Brad’s Deals, a website features discounts and promotions.

Runyon said to start making your holiday shopping list now.

“We are actually expecting to see aggressive Black Friday sales level pricing as early as October this year,” she said.

Do not be a last minute shopper.

“I think that trend is going to backfire on people this year,” said AJ Hernandez of SkyPostal.

Hernandez is in the shipping business. He said last minute shopping and slow shipping will not mix in 2020.

“There are going to be a lot of disappointed people on the holidays if people don’t shop with a little bit of cushion or doing it a little bit in advance in order to get their things,” he said.

Runyon agrees.

“There’s a very real risk that we’re going to see another wave of shipping delays and inventory issues later in the year,” she said. “Which means that for folks who normally wait until the last minute to do their gift shopping, that might not be such a good idea this year. Even retailers that offer one and two days shipping normally, could experience significant delays because of the increase in online ordering.”

Expect to pay more for shipping soon. The postal service is expected to raise prices temporarily because of increased online shopping. Expect to pay between 24 cents and $1.50 more from October 18 to December 27, 2020. Yet, you can cut shipping costs by ordering items online and picking up curbside.

“That's going to be of interest and more in vogue this holiday season,” said Carlos Zapatero of Sykes Enterprises.

Zapatero studies customer experiences. He said contactless shopping is expected to be popular this year because some shoppers do not like to wait on shipping.

“A lot of people today, you know, it’s they want it now and if they can find it now, they’ll make the purchase,” he said.

He said contactless shopping allows shoppers to get gifts more quickly than ordering online and shipping but still stay safe since customers avoid card swipes and touching keypads in stores.

“You don’t have to go into the store,” said Zapatero. “You can actually pay online and have it and then basically go in and show that you’ve already paid for it and it’s done.”

Popular items this year will be electronics.

“They have been selling like hotcakes,” said Ashwim Malshe, a UTSA marketing professor.

Malshe said electronics are now not just a want but a need for many.

“People have been, of course, working from home and using all this electronic equipment, laptops, Chromebooks, iPod, tablets, webcams,” he said.

One other category is also expected to be popular.

“Holiday décor just be huge this year,” said Runyon. “I think people are going to be looking for ways to lift their spirits and enjoy the holiday and really celebrate.”

Shopping, shipping, celebrating.  It will all be different this year. Like so many other 2020 milestones, the holidays will also be modified.

Consider buying some items for others this holiday as you do your shopping.

“Do your shopping,” said Malshe. “It is good for the economy, but do it for people who, you know, you never thought of, like teachers.”

There is extra reason to be charitable, if you can.

If you have a question for eyewitness wants to know, email us at EWTK@kens5.com or call us at 210-377-8647.