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Holiday Stress: What to Expect During a Post-Pandemic Holiday Shopping Trip

There is a constant stream of advice from the media and friends on how to handle your Christmas shopping. For example: Don’t wait too close to Christmas to buy those gifts. Look online for deals. Make sure to plan for additional shipping time and cost. Make lists. Don’t get a gift that’s just close enough, or your child will be upset with you.

We’re shopping veterans now, and we all know what to do when buying Christmas presents every year. But with this holiday season approaching, as with most things of late, it’s not going to be a normal experience. We are desperately trying to come out of this pandemic, and so much of your stress level when shopping is going to depend on how and where you shop. So let’s take a look at what we can expect during a post-pandemic holiday shopping trip and give you a couple of tips on how to survive it better.


There’s no way to know exactly what the malls will look like, but we can make reasonable estimations. As vaccines are being rolled out, and lockdowns are being lifted, and safety precautions are getting looser, it’s expected that a surge of customers is on the horizon. However, exactly how big this surge becomes probably depends on where you live and which stores you plan on frequenting. Most predictions are that there will be larger crowds than last year in areas where the population is less cautious about the pandemic. However, areas that take the risk of Covid-19 seriously are likely to have smaller crowds.

What is not expected to change this year regarding crowds is the people who tend to be procrastinators by nature. Every year, millions put off getting their Christmas presents until the last minute. This means we will likely see the same surge of holiday shoppers as we get closer to Christmas day.

But even if you aren’t expecting a terrifying horde, it would still be advantageous for you to get your masks ready as well as maybe even a little bottle of hand sanitizer. Most stores are following the CDC’s recommended guidelines. However, those guidelines are likely to change, so you might want to check the store policy online before heading out.

However, if you want to ensure you are protected under any scenario, you’ll want to get a quality mask. Because most physical shopping is done indoors, you will want to invest in a mask rated at KN95 mask or above. This will not only protect others, but it will also protect you from 95% of the airborne germs. The good news is the price for these has come down significantly since the beginning of the pandemic, so you don’t have to break your wallet to be protected.

Overloaded Online Shopping

Because of the pandemic, most of us have become quite comfortable with online shopping. Contactless deliveries and the ability to get things from a store without jumping feet first into a Petri dish have been a welcome part of our lives since the outbreak began, and it seems like that’s going to continue being the case even after the dust eventually settles.

Most big stores have delivery options, and there are a host of retailers like Amazon who are ready to deliver presents right to your doorstep. So it’s highly likely that most Americans will be shopping for their Christmas presents from the comfort of their living room sofa. Unfortunately, this means that there could be delays and an increase in out-of-stock items as we get closer to Christmas.

So what is the best shopping advice whether you are going to physically go to the store or purchase your gifts online?

Early, Early, Early

Yup! Whether you are shopping online or going to get your presents the old-fashioned way, shopping early is the way to go. Do it early, and you will rest a lot easier.

With online shopping, getting those items on your list checked off early means you are a lot less likely to run into delays in shipping or not being able to get the item you want because other online shoppers have gobbled it up. In addition, shopping online early gives you time to return an item for a replacement should it not be exactly what you were looking for.

Shopping early also solves the crowd problem if you plan on physically shopping for gifts at your local retail outlets. We’re in the slower retail season now, so there’s plenty of inventory to be had and fewer shoppers competing for presents.

So this year, more than ever, whether you’re shopping online or shopping at your local retailer, the key is to shop early.

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