Holiday Shopping and Inflation – The New York Times

Holiday Shopping and Inflation - The New York Times
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If you feel like the holiday shopping season started earlier this year, that’s because it did. In the past, it traditionally started today – Black Friday. But this fall, retailers have started trying to entice shoppers earlier: Amazon, Best Buy and Target, for example, started offering holiday- or Black Friday-tailored deals in October.

One culprit behind the change is inflation. With prices for food, energy and other goods up nearly 8% from a year ago, consumers fear paying too much. But retailers want customers and have tried to convince the public that their products are affordable. An earlier shopping season with special promotions can help attract more customers.

“If people are careful with their spending, they’re more likely to spend when they see a sale,” said my colleague Nathan Burrow, who covers deals for Wirecutter, the Times-owned product recommendation site. “And retailers are obliging.”

The timing of the sales is just one example of how inflation distorts the shopping season. Today’s newsletter will be a guide to what consumers can expect and how they can face higher prices, with the help of Wirecutter.

You’ll likely see lots of signs touting price cuts if you shop today. But that doesn’t really mean you’re getting a good deal.

“Not all sales are worth your time,” Nathan said. “Yes, there are sales that can actually save people money. But sometimes there are sales that aren’t all they’re supposed to be.

In some cases, items are perpetually or frequently on sale – so much so that the lowest price might as well be the regular price. The prices of video games, for example, are so regularly reduced that some frugal players wait exclusively for the sales. An article from Lifehacker captured the sentiment, telling people to “stop paying full price for video games.”

Inflation has also complicated matters. Consider a mundane item: a two-pack of tape measures at Home Depot, now on sale for $25. This two-pack, which Wirecutter has been priced in since 2018, was on sale for $20 in previous years. So, is the $25 price tag really a bargain? It does, compared to the $45 it was selling for a few weeks ago, but it’s still higher than it was about a year ago, thanks to inflation.

Inflation means consumers can expect similar scenarios with a range of products this year.

However, agreements exist. Nathan has tips for finding good ones in the weeks ahead. First, comparison shop: Now that retailers post their prices online, it’s easy to browse through different outlets to find the best deals. You can also use trackers, like CamelCamelCamel and Honey, to find recent price drops.

Nathan also recommended setting a personal budget for a set number of items – a wish list – and a separate slush fund for impulse purchases. This not only limits your spending, but can also push you to find great deals because you know your total is limited.

“It’s very basic,” Nathan said, “but it can save you some money.”

NFL Triple Head: Favorites Minnesota, Dallas and Buffalo survived a potential Thanksgiving upset feast. All have maintained a strong footing in the playoff race, even as the Cowboys and Bills face some of football’s toughest splits down the stretch.

Results: Portugal held off Ghana in yesterday’s most publicized game, 3-2. Brazil beat Serbia 2-0, Switzerland beat Cameroon 1-0 and Uruguay and Korea tied 0-0. Here is a recap.

Talent: He scored both goals to lead Brazil to victory yesterday. Meet Richarlison, Brazil’s newest star.

The new recruits: More than 130 players present at the tournament represent a country other than that of their birth. A few of them signed up just months before the World Cup.

Matches: The showdown between the United States and England could well be the biggest game in American football for a decade. The English haven’t lost to the United States since 1993. They face off at 2 p.m. ET. Here are today’s other matches and results.

There are adults in New York City Ballet’s annual production of “The Nutcracker,” but make no mistake: the kids are the stars. The show is a training ground for young dancers, who typically start out as angels, learning the basics of stepping across the stage and counting to music, and progressing to more advanced parts over the years.

Eleanor Murphy, a 9-year-old girl playing the rabbit, first saw the City Ballet production when she was 3 years old. “After the show, I was screaming because I didn’t want to go home,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be in ‘The Nutcracker’, and now I’m in ‘Nutcracker.’”


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