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Shopping early more important than ever to be sure gifts arrive on time, experts say

Consumer Reports experts also recommend early shopping in case products run out

Black Friday will look different this year because of COVID-19, but Consumer Reports says that doesn’t mean you can’t score some great deals.

The key, however, is to start thinking about holiday shopping now. For one, some deals have already begun. But also, because of the pandemic, Consumer Reports says certain products are in short supply, and delivery companies are already pushed to the max.

“With holiday shopping on top of the widespread shift to online shopping during the pandemic, shipping companies are going to be totally overwhelmed,” explained Samantha Gordon, Consumer Reports' shopping expert. “It’s actually being dubbed ‘shipageddon.’”

You have three options for shopping this year:

  1. Online with shipping (Shop early so there’s enough time for shipping.)
  2. Online with curbside pickup
  3. In-store

Walmart has already announced its “Black Friday Deals for Days.” It’s three separate events during November with contact-free curbside pickup -- something the store is offering for Black Friday for the first time.

Target is also offering deals throughout the month and is extending its price match guarantee through Dec. 24. Target also offers curbside pickup.

And while Amazon’s holiday sales have already begun, the website promises more sales are coming for Black Friday.

CHECK IT OUT: Consumer Reports’ Holiday Gift Guide | Consumer Reports' Top 10 Black Friday shopping tips

Aside from shopping early, Consumer Reports suggests shopping around. That allows you to find the best prices and will be key for finding popular items that may go out of stock quickly.

Some websites you can visit that currently list Black Friday deals include:

Consumer Reports experts also say to expect some higher shipping costs this season and that it’s important to factor those costs in when comparison shopping.

But you’ll find this year, some retailers like Best Buy and Home Depot, for example, are offering free shipping on eligible items.