Welcome to yet another great disruption. This year, if you aren’t buying your Christmas presents now, you might be out of luck later.

As a publication, we’ve been thinking this through as we plan our articles far in advance. We have the same editorial rhythm for Q4 each year. We know when we’re writing our Thanksgiving recipes, when to throw in our chili recipes (hello, Halloween!) and when to publish our gift guides.

Similarly, if you are Amazon and Target, you know exactly when your Black Friday promotions will start and when your marketing campaigns will launch to support them.

If you are a small business, you know that Small Business Saturday is when you will push sales along with various Open Houses in late November and December.

All of this is now being disrupted.

Editorial calendars are being thrown out the window and large and small retailers alike are pivoting into the reality that if customers wait until late November or December to shop, they may be finding empty shelves. Supply chain disruptions are converging with the largest gift-buying season of the year, and headlines everywhere are warning consumers of the impending stress of not being able to find the gifts they want.

Booksellers are waiting on resupplies of books, which are being held up with a paper shortage; candlemakers are having trouble creating new inventory with a limited supply of glass, which means they don’t have vessels to fill. Shipping containers are sitting longer at port, as there aren’t enough dock workers to empty them, creating a backlog of ships waiting in the sea to off-board their supplies.

It’s a mess on so many levels.

This is why Amazon has announced that Black Friday sales have already started and Target has pre-Black Friday Deals going on through Tuesday, October 12, with more sales to follow, all before their typical Black Friday sales will even start. Welcome to the “season of sales,” as the idea of a large one-day sale simply does not fit the reality of today. Expect many other retailers, both large and small, to follow suit.

Take a deep breath. It’s okay. There is no need to panic.

All this to say, it may be a good idea to make your holiday list and fulfill it NOW. Shop your local stores (they need you more than ever; please shop local) and order your holiday cards. If you see something you like, buy it. It may not be there if you wait. Maybe with the extra effort required early in this season, we may all find that we’re a little more relaxed come December? That would be a silver lining.

For us on the StyleBlueprint editorial team, we’re moving our holiday lists up by a month to the beginning of November, and even this is giving us pause. Will these lists be out soon enough? Will they be helpful to our readers and the small businesses that these lists support? We don’t know. We do know it’s better than waiting until December like we have for the past 12 years.

We’re going into these next few months looking to support small brands, local businesses, and you, our readers. We’ll navigate all this together, and if the shelves end up empty, remember that at the end of the day, gifts are like the sprinkles on top of a cupcake in a relationship. They’re fun and sparkly, but it’s really everything that goes into the recipe that matters: the time spent together, the memories made, and the grace received and given.

Cheers to us all navigating the next few months of expectations and new challenges together!

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P.S. If you need to shop online, here is our Online Shopping Guide dedicated to supporting Southern small and local brick-and-mortar businesses.

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