Image for article titled Yes, Halloween Is This Sunday—But It's Time to Start Your Holiday Shopping Now

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Fam, this is not a drill: Unless you and your nearest and dearest have decided to forego gift-giving during this swiftly approaching holiday season, you should get started shopping—now. No, not because of any tired tropes about our own, culturally specific timetable, but because, as noted by the homie and VSB Senior Editor Panama Jackson, the infrastructure known as the supply chain has been seriously compromised by nearly 20 months of a global pandemic—and, like the coronavirus itself, anyone can get it.

Actually, depending upon the product—which could range from Panama’s beloved and suddenly price-gouged Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula to the piece of furniture I will have waited over five months for by the time it (hopefully) arrives in December, the real risk is that these days, anyone can’t get what they order within a reasonable time frame. That’s likely not a risk you want to take during the holidays, especially if your gift is already an inadequate substitute for your abnormally prolonged absence from loved ones.

We know, we know…since this is our second holiday season spent in the pandemic, shouldn’t the supply chain be in better shape than last year? Fashionista’s Dhani Mau explains why it’s actually worse, especially when shopping online.

In the United States, we’re expected to spend $910 billion online — a 10{df277fece0e332513078d4db57f50d7f29a9f255adc120b3235ad73f23ad2e97} increase over last year. That may seem fairly small, but not when you think about the year we’re comparing it to: In a pre-vaccine 2020, the pandemic pushed more holiday shoppers to e-commerce than ever, and online spending grew 33{df277fece0e332513078d4db57f50d7f29a9f255adc120b3235ad73f23ad2e97} compared to 2019. According to Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights, that’s essentially the equivalent of two normal years of growth.

The $910 billion estimate is “stronger than we would have expected 2021 to be had we made an estimate pre-pandemic,” he tells me: “This trend [towards e-commerce] was happening anyway. We just fast forwarded about a year from where we would’ve been. We’re roughly 45{df277fece0e332513078d4db57f50d7f29a9f255adc120b3235ad73f23ad2e97} up on 2019.” That means shoppers aren’t rushing back to stores just because it’s safer now — at least not to browse and shop or elbow competitors out of the way on Black Friday.

Add to that the “Great Resignation” of 2021, “which has thinned the nation’s labor pool and slowed the economic recovery,” notes the Washington Post, adding: “Workers are now harder to replace, especially while many companies are scrambling to meet heightened demand for their products and manage hobbled supply chains.” These workers include many in the retail, manufacturing and shipping sectors, meaning that in addition to increased difficulty procuring the raw materials needed for a variety of covetable goods, there are also less workers on hand to produce and sell them—largely because even with pandemic price-gouging, those revenues weren’t trickling down to the laborers whose skills are much-needed.

So, what does this mean for you getting your capitalist groove on this holiday season? Well, with two months to the day until Christmas, we advise you start shopping now if you want your gifts to arrive on time—even if it means adding “Do Not Open Until Christmas” tags to all of them. As always, we’re here to help ease you into the pre-holiday spirit—even before you’ve even passed out candy or ordered your Thanksgiving turkey (which you should also lock down, if you haven’t already). Since we know buying Black isn’t just a socially conscious fad for our crowd but a moral imperative, here are a few Black-owned marketplaces to peruse, just to get you started—and please, get started. We’ll be back with our usual series of curated lists in the days and weeks ahead.