How to overcome Christmas 2021 consumer challenges - from starting your shopping early to buying locally

Resolver consumer expert Martyn James offers top tips on how to avoid any Christmas shopping dramas as the countdown to the big day begins

So…we need to have a chat about Christmas.

No wait..! Don’t turn the page or click away. I’m horrified to have written that first sentence at this time of the year - but bear with me.

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While now is not traditionally the time to get festive, we need to start planning now. That’s because this year, the big day could be ruined by a range of situations and circumstances.

However, with a little bit of prep, you can save the big day.

Christmas challenges

At the moment, the UK (and other countries around the world) are facing unprecedented challenges due to the knock-on effects of the pandemic, staff levels, shipping, politics and the practicalities of getting goods from A to B.

It’s not just about getting goods on to shop shelves or to your front door. When the world went into lockdown, factory production largely shut down too. That means everything from toys and electronics to the components that are vital for everything from cars to phones are short in supply.

Don’t panic though! Here are a few things to watch out for and some tips to help you ensure Christmas goes smoothly.

Make a list

Treat yourself to a mulled wine to steel yourself and make a list of all the things you’re going to need. Start with the ‘significant’ purchases for your family and friends.

No matter how hard you try, people are going to be disappointed this year because there won’t be enough of the in-demand gifts and toys to go round.

Get your order in now – and manage expectations if it’s looking rocky.

Shop UK

Take your list to your local high street and buy what you need if it’s available on the shelves – then at least you’re not waiting for deliveries.

Next, when you are online shopping do a few checks before you click. Always look to see if the firm is based in the UK and the estimated delivery time for the goods.

There’s nothing wrong with buying from abroad, but it’s going to take much, much longer to arrive and you have fewer rights if things go wrong.

Contact pages

If you order anything for delivery, always check the business’ ‘contact us’ pages before you commit. If there’s no phone number or direct email, ask yourself; what happens if something goes wrong?

Stay local

We’ve all become too reliant on online shopping.

So if you don’t want to fund billionaires faffing about in space with your cash, turn off the laptop and go local.

If you order goods from local shops then you build a relationship with the staff there who can give you realistic expectations about deliveries and sort out practical problems.

Find a farm

Despite the horror stories in the media, many farmers I’ve spoken to tell me they have more than enough produce – it’s getting it to their customers that’s the problem.

For most people around the UK, you’re never that far from a local farm that you can buy direct from. Not only do you get supplies direct from the source, you’ve got on the radar of a business that can give you priority when it comes to ordering the Christmas dinner and trimmings.

Running out of time

As December hits, you might be looking at your outstanding orders and worrying that they will be late.

If a business has given you an estimated delivery time, then it should ensure you have the goods by then or you can ask for a refund.

If the business doesn’t give an estimate, then they must do this in a reasonable amount of time – taken to mean 30 days.

If time is running out, see if you can source the goods elsewhere, then cancel and claim back your cash.

  • Don’t forget you can complain about anything and get help for free through Resolver.

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