Q: I keep hearing there are shipping delays. Do I need to start my holiday shopping now?

A: Starting your holiday shopping early is definitely a good idea. The shipping delays you are hearing about are caused by several issues. The largest ports on the West Coast are backed up with delays in unloading cargo. There are often least 50 ships waiting in the waters for their turn to dock. Ships now often must wait a week or more to be offloaded.

There has been a surge in purchasing from American consumers and the dock infrastructure cannot keep up with this demand. There are shortages of shipping containers and shortages of workers to offload and drive the merchandise. The shipping costs have soared, and relief is not expected until sometime in 2022.

The influx of shopping for the holiday season will no doubt exacerbate an already overloaded global supply chain issue. Start early and be prepared for shipping to take longer than usual. Shop in person when you can and select what is already in stock in the store.

Many stores are starting to offer pre-holiday sales now to incentivize people to shop early and avoid delays. Start by making a list of who you want to buy gifts for. Do not buy things just because you see a good deal. Think about the gift receiver and what they would like, and check off your list as you go.

This may be a good year to consider donating to a charity in leu of buying someone a present. A nice card with a kind sentiment about why you chose this charity can make a very personal and touching gift.

You may also want to consider making your own gifts. Consider making a favorite recipe and giving the meal to a friend. Or make a recipe book with family favorites and pass this down to the younger generation. You can bake cookies, make a photo album for someone special, paint a mug, or knit a scarf. Visit a local crafts store to get some ideas.

Another way to avoid the issue of shipping delays is to shop local. If you are not able to make them yourself, consider buying from local artists and craftspeople. Around the holiday time there are many craft fairs where you can enjoy an outing while supporting local small businesses.

There will be one in Simi Valley on Sunday, November 7th called the SnowFest Arts & Crafts Fair. It will be open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at Rancho Madera Community Park, 556 Lake Park. In Thousand Oaks in the Oaks Mall parking lot, you can enjoy the SoCal Etsy Guild Market. This market will be held on Saturday, November 13th from 10am to 8pm. You can find more listings at this website https://www.conejovalleyguide.com/local-events/category/Shopping%2FBoutique

Holiday shopping can feel stressful. Try and stay focused on the intent behind the shopping. It is a time to honor those you care about, to thank people who have helped you along the way, and to show people you appreciate them. The details of what you buy are less important than the sentiment behind them.

Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at mshapiro@seniorconcerns.org

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