Texas Tech University

Expert: Shop Early, Local to Avoid Supply Chain Struggles

Glenys Young

October 22, 2021

If you wait until Black Friday for this year’s holiday shopping, you’ve waited too long.


Black Friday (Nov. 26) is still more than a month away, and Christmas follows a month later. But if you think you have plenty of time to do your holiday shopping, think again.

Historically occurring the day after Thanksgiving, this year's Black Friday shopping frenzy is expected to begin sooner than ever. Multiple factors are involved, including increased online shopping. Online Black Friday sales topped in-person sales for the first time in 2016, and the following year, many retailers encouraged cyber-shopping by not opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. Additionally, retailers no longer wait until Thanksgiving to offer Black Friday deals. Because Thanksgiving fell late in 2019, retailers offered pre-Thanksgiving doorbusters to compensate. Last year, retailers extended Black Friday to a month-long sales event to limit mass gatherings during the pandemic.

Robert Paul Jones
Robert Paul Jones

Now, in 2021, those trends toward earlier and increasingly online shopping present their own problems. Supply chain shortages resulting from the pandemic have led to empty shelves, higher prices and long shipping delays. Online shoppers are expected to receive out-of-stock messages more than three-and-a-half times as often as two years ago.

Despite the challenges, Texas Tech University's Robert Paul Jones, chair of the Department of Hospitality and Retail Management and immediate past president of the American Collegiate Retail Association, says there's hope for holiday shoppers – as long as they shop smart. Prior to his career in academia, Jones spent nearly 30 years in the retail and hospitality industry with firms such as May Company, Dollywood, Shop at Home and Jewelry Television. He is active in many industry organizations, including the Texas Retailers Association, Texas Food and Fuel, the Texas Retailers Education Foundation and the Category Management Association.


Robert Paul Jones, chair, Department of Hospitality and Retail Management, College of Human Sciences, (806) 742-3068 or robert.p.jones@ttu.edu

Talking points

  • Shop early. Many items will sell out, and with supply chain difficulties, they may not be restocked.
  • Shop local. Many chains are likely to run out of products, especially hot toys and items. Local retailers are often overlooked during the holidays and can be a great resource for hard-to-get items.
  • Watch the major chains for early Black Friday deals. Walmart and Best Buy have already begun their offerings, and most stores will have sales throughout November.
  • If an order requires having products shipped, make sure that is accomplished early.
    • USPS will raise prices during the busy holiday shipping season.
    • Shipping will slow as the holidays approach due to bottlenecks from a lack of workers and supply chain trouble.
    • Weather is always a risk, and with already slow delivery, it could spell disaster.
  • Think outside the box. Consider food items (smoked meats like turkey, jams, jellies and specialty items from local, regional and national companies), hand-made items from local artists and artisans and purchases of services, all of which are less likely to suffer from the supply chain issues.