Christmas Shopping and Inflation – The New York Times

If it feels like the holiday season started earlier this year, that’s because it did. Traditionally, it used to start today – on Black Friday. But earlier this fall, retailers tried to lure shoppers: Amazon, Best Buy, and Target, for example, began offering deals tailored to the holidays or Black Friday in October.

One culprit behind the shift is inflation. With the prices of food, energy and other commodities rising nearly 8 percent year-on-year, consumers fear they are overpaying. But retailers want customers and have tried to convince the public that their products are affordable. An earlier shopping season with special offers can help bring more shoppers to the door.

“If people are careful about spending, they’re more likely to spend when they see a sale,” said my colleague Nathan Burrow, who covers deals for Wirecutter, the Times’ product recommendation site. “And the retailers are accommodating.”

The timing of sales is just one example of how inflation distorts the shopping season. Today’s newsletter will be a guide to what consumers can expect and how to deal with higher prices with the help of Wirecutter.

You will likely see many signs boasting about discounts when you go shopping today. But that doesn’t really mean you’re getting a good deal.

“Not every sale will be worth your time,” Nathan said. “Yes, there are offers that can actually save you money. But sometimes there are sales that aren’t what they’re hyped for.”

In some cases, items come up for sale constantly or frequently – to the point where the lower price may just as well be the regular one. Video game prices, for example, drop so regularly that some thrifty gamers just wait for sales. A Lifehacker article captured sentiment, urging people to “stop paying full price for video games.”

Inflation has also complicated things. Consider an everyday item: a twin pack of tape measures at Home Depot, now on sale for $25. This two-pack, which Wirecutter has been pricing since 2018, has been on sale for $20 in previous years. So is the $25 price really a deal? Compared to the $45 it sold for a few weeks ago, it is, but it’s still higher than it was about a year ago thanks to inflation.

Inflation means consumers can expect similar scenarios for a range of products this year.

Nevertheless, there are offers. Nathan has tips for finding good ones in the coming weeks. First, comparison store: now that retailers are posting their prices online, it’s easy to browse different outlets to find the best deals. You can also use trackers like CamelCamelCamel and Honey to find recent price drops.

Nathan also recommended setting a personal budget for a set number of items — a wish list — and a separate slush fund for impulse purchases. Not only does this limit your spending, but it can also push you to find good deals, knowing your total is limited.

“It’s very simple,” Nathan said, “but it can save you money.”

NFL Triple Header: Favorites Minnesota, Dallas and Buffalo survived a possible upset Thanksgiving. Everyone held on in the playoff race, although the Cowboys and the Bills later have to contend with some of the toughest divisions in football.

Results: Portugal beat Ghana 3-2 in yesterday’s high-profile game. Brazil beat Serbia 2-0, Switzerland beat Cameroon 1-0 and Uruguay and Korea drew 0-0. Here is a summary.

Talent: He scored both goals yesterday to lead Brazil to victory. Meet Richarlison, Brazil’s new star.

The newcomers: More than 130 players in the tournament represent a country other than their country of birth. Some of them signed only months before the World Cup.

Encounters: The duel between the USA and England could become the biggest American football game in a decade. England have not lost to the USA since 1993. They play each other at 2 p.m. Eastern. Here are today’s other games and results.

There are adults in the New York City Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker, but make no mistake: the kids are the stars. The show is a training ground for young dancers who generally start out as angels, learning the basics of crossing the stage and counting to the music and progressing to more advanced parts over the years.

Eleanor Murphy, a 9-year-old girl who plays the rabbit, first saw the City Ballet performance when she was 3 years old. “After the show, I screamed because I didn’t want to go home,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be in The Nutcracker, and now I am in ‘The Nutcracker.'”