toys shopping crisis

How to Shop for Toys During the Holiday Shipping Crisis

One of the biggest questions is how to shop for toys during the holiday shopping crisis. So, you have come to the right place! I have some easy tips to help you get the toys you need this holiday season!

I have a degree in Economics and a doctorate in law, along with over ten years in the toy industry, so I am always striving to find ways to explain big problems in a way that helps you with solutions. So, I came up with a mnemonic for the word – SHOP. It can help you remember these four tips when shopping for toys this season and beyond:

S – small business, H – hot-toy lists, O – opportunities for shipping, and P – planning for alternatives.

Small Business

If you are having trouble finding toys, shop local. What I mean by that is a two-fold solution – local business and made locally.

First, shop at your local toy retailer. They have often bought and sourced toys earlier in the year due to the nature of small businesses. Large retailers, however, buy quantities throughout the year, which is what is causing toy shortages at those big box stores. The toys that are sold out cannot be restocked with the factory and shipping delays overseas. So best check with local toy stores as they may have the toy you are searching for in stock!

Second, shop Made in the USA. Toys made in the USA are not facing the shipping crisis because those toys are already here in the United States. Alternatively, toys made overseas are not able to get on ships and in cargo containers to make it to the United States. Many toys that did get on ships still face the fact that many are stuck on ships that are backed up in ports. So avoid that shopping crisis this season and shop USA-made. You can see a list here from this website.

Hot Lists

If you are wondering where to start your holiday toy shopping, I suggest shopping from the Hot Toy Lists. Amazon, Target, and even independent sites like The Toy Insider, have hot toy lists. If the child in your life is asking for a toy from a hotlist, get it sooner rather than later because they more than likely will be sold out! Those toys are on a hotlist for a reason!

Opportunity is NOW

The opportunity to maximize your holiday toy shopping success is to shop NOW! Not just because you want the stock to shop, but because of the shipping delays. Carriers like UPS, FedEx, and USPS are slower than ever with traffic, worker shortages, and more online shopping than ever. The toy you order has to complete with someone else’s order for toothpaste on the delivery truck and warehouse fulfillment!

Also, the opportunity to buy big is greater now than later. Toy manufacturers are prioritizing smaller toys over larger ones in cargo containers. You may find the small Lego sets, but perhaps not the big ones. The retailers are doing the same with prioritizing smaller toys so the store shelves look stocked. So, buy big now.

Plan for Alternatives

As you encourage the kids in your life to make their toy wish lists, have them list their second choice too. It will help you shop with purpose. It also helps kids mentally prepare for the fact they may not get exactly what they asked for. If they want the red toy truck, will the blue toy truck do? What about a toy train instead of a toy truck?

Feel free to download the printable below!

Also, see if perhaps a gift card or two thrown in the mix may be wanted in lieu of a toy. Especially for kids eight years old and up. They can then use the gift card in late winter or spring to get themselves a new toy or something that is perfect for spring and summer. Also, consider fewer toys and more experiences. If your child is asking for a toy truck, would they prefer to go to a Monster Truck Rally?


Now is the time to shop – and now is the time to talk to our kids and set expectations. That way, everyone can enjoy the holiday season, remember that is it about people and not possessions, and put the Yay! into Holiday!

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