Why I'm starting my Black Friday and Christmas gift shopping now

I'm not risking getting caught out by stock shortages, delivery delays and rising prices

Christmas shopping on Oxford Street
(Image credit: Photodisc / Getty)

Years ago, before online shopping was a thing I'd perfected my last-minute Christmas shopping into a meticulously planned Christmas Eve ritual. In the days leading up to Christmas Eve, I'd make a list of all the gifts I wanted to buy for people that I'd be seeing over the Christmas period. Then I'd figure out which stores in my local town were likely to carry the items I wanted and plot a map between the stores so that I wouldn't have to unnecessarily double back on myself.

On the morning of Christmas Eve, I'd arrive in town, follow my pre-planned shopping route, and triumphantly finish my shopping by 4pm and be back home wrapping gifts and eating mince pies an hour later.

It was a great system until the year that it wasn't: I arrived in town only to discover that the stores had all sold out of the items that I was planning I buy and I had to get very creative with both the stores I visited and the items I bought. That Christmas Eve tradition came to a sudden end.

Like many people, I now do much of my Christmas gift buying online and I tend to stretch out that shopping between the Black Friday deals and mid-December. This year I'm planning to get things done earlier, and you might want to do the same.

Why I'm shopping early

I'm shopping early for a number of reasons. First, both in the UK and the US, there's a supply chain issue caused by increased demand as we come out of lockdown and a shortage of people to unload containers from ships and to drive those containers out of the ports. Import levels are rising and many ports are now at capacity and having to divert ships.

Second, there's already a shortage of popular products. The PS5 restock woes are still ongoing nearly a whole year after it was released. There are long waiting lists for bicycles and a global shortage of some computing components means a slowdown in production of OLED TVs, graphics cards, phones and even cars (not that I'm planning to buy anyone a car for Christmas). So while a new report says that Black Friday will be more popular with Christmas shoppers this year I do wonder whether leaving it that late is wise.

Third, rising energy prices are going to have a knock-on effect on prices, whether that's the energy required to produce the products or to transport them from one side of the world to the other. So even if you're able to buy everything you want for Christmas November and December, you might end up paying a bit more for it all.

I may be wrong and we may see availability of everything we want to buy right the way up until midnight on Christmas Eve, but I'm not taking that chance.

The early Black Friday sales have started

Fortunately, loads of stores already have sales on, with Black Friday level deals already available. In the US, for example, there's Amazon's Epic Daily Deals with big savings on brands such as Apple, Bose and more. And in the UK, Currys has deals on TVs, laptops, coffee machines and more and John Lewis has a sale on with up to 50% off. In fact, everywhere you look, sales are starting as the retailers compete for our cash – so I'm taking advantage now. Hopefully – as we saw last year – retailers will offer a Black Friday price match promise where if we buy in the sales now and the product does drop further in price on Black Friday, they'll refund the difference.

By shopping early, not only do you get the buying out of the way and get hold of everything you want before it sells out, but you can split the cost of that shopping over October and November's pay, which leaves more of December's pay spare for what's going to be really important this year after last year's Christmas lockdown – socialising with friends and family. Cheers!

The best early Black Friday deals in the UK today

Paul Douglas
Global Digital Editorial Strategy Director, Future

Paul Douglas is Global Digital Editorial Strategy Director at Future and has worked in publishing for over 25 years. He worked in print for over 10 years on various computing titles including .net magazine and the Official Windows Magazine before moving to TechRadar.com in 2008, eventually becoming Global Editor-in-Chief for the brand, overseeing teams in the US, UK and Australia. Following that, Paul has been Global Editor-in-Chief of BikeRadar and T3 (not at the same time) and later Content Director working on T3, TechRadar and Tom's Guide. In 2021, Paul also worked on the launches of FitandWell.com and PetsRadar.