Black Friday Deals: Why Supply Chain Experts Say You Need to Shop Now, Not Later

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Each year, Black Friday marks the kickoff of the holiday shopping season. And you'd better start shopping now if you want a merry and present-filled Christmas or Hannukah holiday in 2021.

A number of factors are coming together to complicate gift-giving this year, especially for those prone to procrastination. Clogged ports, a stressed trucking industry, labor shortages, higher demand and higher shipping costs are all impacting shipments of toys, electronics, apparel and more. The supply chain issues are not only impacting imports from China, where many of this year's hottest toys are made but also shipments within the United States.

"Major retailers are expecting a strong holiday shopping season, but have warned of limited inventories, longer shipping times, labor shortages and fewer discounts," Morgan Stanley economists recently told investors.

U.S. ports are struggling to keep up with imports

One major pain point in the supply chain is the backlog at U.S. ports. Late last month, CBS News reported that the Port of Los Angeles, which handles 40% of U.S. imports, is facing a record backlog.

"The American consumer's buying strength is so strong and epic that we can't absorb all this cargo into the domestic supply chain," says Gene Seroka, director of the Port of Los Angeles.

East Coast ports are seeing record volume as well. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey recently reported that it moved more cargo in August 2021 than in any other August on record.

There are plenty of domestic shipping delays, too

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(Photo: BRYAN CHAN/LOS ANGELES TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES)

Of course, unloading cargo from ships is just the first step in getting this year's hottest toys, apparel and more from Asia to store shelves. Shipments need to be put on trucks, as well. And there just aren't enough trucks to get everything where it needs to go without big delays.

"There are really on average about 16 available truckload shipments for every available truck to move product out of (ports)," Bob Biesterfeld, the CEO of shipping logistics company C.H. Robinson, told CBS News.

Scott Price, the international president of shipping giant UPS, says he is half-jokingly warning people to "order your Christmas presents now, because otherwise on Christmas day, there may just be a picture of something that's not coming until February or March." And the United States Postal Service is bracing for increased holiday shipping volumes by raising rates and slowing the delivery of first class mail, effective October 1. (Send those holiday cards early this year, too!)

Here's how to avoid the holiday shipping crunch

The nation's supply chain is stressed, but you shouldn't be. There are plenty of great pre-Black Friday sales at Amazon, Nordstrom, Kohl's and other retailers on right now, offering popular electronics, kitchenware, apparel and more at deep discounts. Here are some of the best Pre-Black Friday deals available now, as curated by the CBS Essentials team.

Walmart Black Friday deals

Walmart has tons of tech, makeup, home goods and more reduced right now.

Hamilton Beach Digital Bread Maker

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(Photo: Walmart)

The Hamilton Beach 2 Lb. Breadmaker lets you create fresh homemade bread and dough without even having to roll up your sleeves to mix and knead. Just add ingredients, select the cycle, and press start. You control the ingredients and nutritional content of your bread when you make it yourself so it's easier to make healthy loaves.

Buy at Walmart: Hamilton Beach digital bread maker, $50 (regularly $70)

Keurig K-Duo Essentials Single-Serve and Carafe Coffee Maker

This versatile brewer is the best of both worlds, using both K-Cup pods and ground coffee to brew a cup and carafe of your favorite varieties. The K-Duo Essentials coffee maker is black and has a 60 oz. single water reservoir that is shared between single serve and carafe brewing, which means fewer water refills to save you time.

Buy at Walmart: Keurig K-Duo Essentials single-serve and carafe coffee maker, $79 (regularly $99)


Best Buy Black Friday deals

Best Buy has TVs, laptops, video games and more tech on sale

Asus 11.6" Chromebook

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(Photo: Best Buy)

Stay productive and entertained with this ASUS 11.6-inch Chromebook notebook. The 4GB memory ensures fast startups, while the Intel Celeron processor and 32GB eMMC Flash Memory offer smooth performance. This ASUS 11.6-inch Chromebook notebook has an LED-backlit HD display that provides an engaging viewing experience and is easily visible in dark environments.

Buy at Best Buy: ASUS 11.6" Chromebook, 4GB memory, 32GB storage, $119 (reduced from $219)

MORE: See all the Best Buy Black Friday Deals

Ulta Black Friday deals

Find makeup, skincare, fragrances and more reduced at Ulta.

MORE: Shop Ulta Black Friday deals now

Prince U Got the Look Vegan Eyeshadow Palette

Urban Decay's PRINCE Collection U Got the Look Vegan Eyeshadow Palette is a limited-edition vegan eyeshadow palette that pays tribute to Prince's iconic style with 10 super-rich, blendable shades in satin, matte, shimmer, and metallic finishes.

Buy at Ulta: Prince U Got the Look vegan eyeshadow palette, $28 (regularly $55)

Amazon Black Friday deals

Amazon's Black Friday sale, featuring what the company is calling "epic deals," is on now. You can save big on Alexa-powered devices, toys, apparel, kitchenware, beauty and much more. Here's a sampling of what's on sale.

SEE THEM ALL: Shop Amazon's Daily Deals now 

Echo Show 5: $40

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(Photo: Amazon)

The first-generation (2019) Echo Show 5 is an incredibly affordable way to get started with Alexa smart home ecosystem. Features a 5.5-inch display and a deeply reduced price.

Buy Now: 

Instant Omni Pro 14-in-1 Air Fryer and Convection Oven

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(Photo: Amazon)

14-IN-1 FUNCTIONALITY: Air fry, broil, bake, roast, dehydrate, reheat, rotisserie, toast, warm, convection oven, slow cook, proof, split cook, temperature probe.

Buy At Amazon: Instant Omni Pro 14-in-1 air fryer and convection oven, $250 (reduced from $300)

Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Wooden Play Bunk Bed for Dolls

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(Photo: Amazon)

Two, white wooden play beds that stack into a bunk bed for dolls and stuffed animals up to 20 inches tall

Buy at Amazon: Melissa & Doug Mine to Love wooden play bunk bed for dolls, $40 (reduced from $54)

Love, Diana Sing-Along Popstar 13-inch Doll and Working Microphone

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(Photo: Amazon)

Buy at Amazon: Love, Diana Sing-Along Popstar 13-inch doll and working microphone, $30 (reduced from $35)

Nordstrom Black Friday deals

Nordstrom has markdowns on men's, women's and children's fashion, home and more.

All the Deals: Shop Nordstrom Black Friday Deals Now

Disney x Casetify insulated stainless steel water bottle

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(Photo: Nordstrom)

Keep thirst at bay with this Disney x Casetify insulated water bottle (26 oz.) featuring a retro design of Minnie Mouse or the whole Mickey Mouse gang.

Buy at Nordstrom: Disney x Casetify insulated stainless steel water bottle, $29

Nordstrom Snuggle Plus Faux Fur Slipper

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Buy at Nordstrom: Nordstrom Snuggle Plush faux fur slipper, $15 (reduced from $29)

GameStop Black Friday deals

GameStop has deals on video games, gaming accessories, action figures and more. 

The Last of Us, Part II – PS4

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(Photo: GameStop)

Buy at GameStop: The Last of Us, Part II for PlayStation 4, $26 (reduced from $40)

MORE: Shop All GameStop Black Friday deals now

Wayfair Black Friday deals

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Find furniture, small kitchen appliances, bedding and more reduced at Wayfair.

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(Photo: Wayfair)

Buy at Wayfair: The Magic Bullet countertop blender, $40 (reduced from $57)

MORE: Shop Wayfair Black Friday deals now