Holiday shopping is radically different this year. Black Friday sales began in October and “doorbuster” deals are all but obsolete as more Americans shop online during the pandemic.

Many of the nation’s largest retailers began rolling out discounts well before Halloween in hopes of securing early sales in a year of unpredictable twists and challenges. They have moved most of their discounts online and are staggering in-store offers to allow for social distancing and other safety measures.

“This is a very different holiday shopping season,” said Casey Runyan, the managing editor of the sale-tracking website Brad’s Deals. “Retailers are taking a week’s worth of sales and breaking them up and spreading them out.”

Here are five things to keep in mind as you shop this week:

Shop early.

The top piece of advice from retailers: Don’t procrastinate.

“The big, big, big message for everybody is to shop early,” said Steve Smith, the chief executive of L.L. Bean, the Maine-based retailer known for its outdoor and recreation clothing. “Inventories are going to be light, and we know shipping capacity is very challenged his year.”

The U.S. Postal Service has been experiencing widespread delays, and United Parcel Service and FedEx have warned retailers that they’re near capacity for the holidays. As a result, as many as 7 million packages a day could fall through the cracks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to the software and consulting firm ShipMatrix.

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