Have you started your holiday shopping yet? You might want to since the product shortages and shipping delays experienced last year are expected to impact us this year too.

(WGGB/WSHM) -- Have you started your holiday shopping yet? You might want to since the product shortages and shipping delays experienced last year are expected to impact us this year too.

“There will be more gift cards this year,” said Natasha Negron of Springfield.

Negron stressed the importance of starting your holiday shopping early.

“I just like to shop and get things done early because if you do last minute everything will be gone,” Negron noted.

Play Now, a toy store with two locations in Ludlow and Westfield, opened their doors last years during the pandemic which owner Raymond Vigneault said presented a multitude of challenges.

“When everything shut down, there's currently a shortage now and shipping delays are three months, so if people don't start getting their orders in now, they will not get it before Christmas,” Vigneault explained.

Vigneault said during the pandemic, the cost of shipping, packaging, plastic, and wood has risen, so families will need to budget more than ever before.

“Prices have gone up about 15 to 20 percent on all toys since March, so people shopping this year will have to pay a little bit more and I’m not sure if they will realize that ‘til they're in the store,” Vigneault added.

He explained what’s driving up costs.

“Shipping cost for containers…They were $2,500. Now they're $25,000,” Vigneault said.

That’s why, this year, you made need to get a head start on your Christmas list. Western Mass News is getting answers from Kristen McGrath, an editor at RetailMeNot, and she said this year, popular items may be hard to find.

“Barbie, Lego, Hot Wheels, anything Marvelm those things may go fast and we will find spotty availability,” McGrath explained.

She said shopping online and utilizing in-store pick up will be a great help.

“If the retailer allows you to sign-up for reliable alerts that items are in stock, definitely go for that, but even then, you need to move fast,” McGrath added.

McGrath advises customers to utilize company features as much as possible, like ordering your gifts already wrapped.

“Lovingly wrap gifts and send them out is to ship them out early, so you're not competing with the holiday rush. If you're thinking about this in December, you're probably already too late,” McGrath said.

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