Here's What You Should ACTUALLY Buy Everyone This Year

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Remember when there was a scarcity of toilet paper all those months ago? Well, COVID-19 has evolved, and so has its impact on the global supply chain, affecting ​far​ more goods. In a nutshell, staffing shortages in factories and the transportation industry, alongside other COVID-related complications, are negatively affecting the availability (and prices!) of, well, pretty much anything that can be stocked in a store.

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So as we move full-steam ahead into the biggest shopping season of the year, things are going to look a little different. "There's going to be a lot less inventory and a lot less choice for the consumer," Edward Hertzman, founder of trade publication ​Sourcing Journal,​ told Fast Company.

And because of the rules of supply and demand, we wouldn't be surprised to see dramatic competition to purchase hot-ticket items as we creep closer to the holidays. Imagine a long-duration Black Friday, but instead of discounts, there will be jacked-up prices. Yeah, not good.

Unfortunately, if you're looking to avoid that kind of chaos, it might actually already be too late. According to Adobe's recent Holiday Shopping Forecast, the future is bleak as "out-of-stock messages are up 172% vs. pre-pandemic period (Jan 2020)." They also increased by a whopping 360% compared to January 2019. "As consumer demand and shipping networks get into the holiday, this problem is only going to get worse," the report explains.

But that doesn't mean you're entirely out of luck for gifting. According to Hertzman, the best thing you can buy for someone this year is a gift card. Forget seeing them as an "impersonal" present — right now, they're actually extremely practical. Because supply is limited, a gift card allows the giftee to keep an eye on the availability of the products they actually want, even if they won't be restocked until the new year.

Here's to making things a little easier this holiday shopping season.

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Stefanie is a New York–based writer and editor. She has served on the editorial staffs of Architectural Digest, ARTnews, and Oyster.com, a TripAdvisor company, before setting out on her own as a freelancer. Her beats include architecture, design, art, travel, science, and history, and her words have appeared in Architectural Digest, Condé Nast Traveler, Popular Science, Mental Floss, Galerie, Jetsetter, and History.com, among others. In another life, she'd be a real estate broker since she loves searching for apartments and homes.