Holiday sales at Target and Amazon are starting in October—here’s why shopping early is a smart financial move

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With less than 90 days until the winter gift giving season, some holiday shoppers are getting started sooner rather than later.

Half of winter holiday shoppers plan to begin making purchases before Halloween this year, according to a September Bankrate survey. About 38% plan to start shopping in November.

Although about 12% of shoppers plan to wait until December to do their holiday shopping, getting a head-start can provide added time to plan and find the best deals.

"This will allow plenty of time to search for discounts, set money aside for your shopping list and do some comparison shopping," WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez tells CNBC Make It.

"In the current inflationary economy, really any discount you can take advantage of will make a difference in your budget," she adds.

And those holiday discounts are coming sooner too.

Target is introducing its holiday savings earlier than ever, according to a September announcement. Target's "Deal Days" are set to begin Oct. 6 through 8 and budget-conscious shoppers will be able to find many discounts online and in-store.

Additionally, Amazon is holding an "Early Access Sale" for Prime members on Oct. 11 and 12. This marks the first time the e-commerce giant has ever held two Prime Day-like sale events in one year.

While Walmart hasn't announced when exactly its holiday discounts will begin, the retailer plans to "offer thousands more Rollbacks this holiday to provide even deeper savings on the hottest gifts, including toys, home, electronics, beauty and more," according to a September press release.

In 2021, supply chain issues and delayed shipments drove consumers to begin their holiday shopping early due to fears of shortages of some of the season's hottest gifts.

In 2022, however, inflation is the main force behind consumers getting a jump-start on their buying.

"Holiday shopping will look different this year with inflation around 40-year highs," Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst for Bankrate.com, says. "Consumers are still spending, but they're being especially thoughtful about where each dollar goes."

In fact, around 84% of Bankrate's survey respondents say they're taking steps to reduce the cost of their holiday purchases by taking advantage of coupons and discounts, and buying fewer items.

Even before you begin to spend money, simply starting your shopping plan early can help your budget go farther.

"Assuming you get paid twice a month, you probably have seven paydays left this year. Setting money aside from each of them will go a long way toward avoiding the dreaded holiday debt hangover in January," Rossman explains.

Using a rewards credit card for holiday purchases can also be a smart way to earn points or cash back — as long as you can pay off your balance in full and avoid interest charges, both Rossman and Gonzalez say.

Regardless of when you start, don't wait until the last minute if you're a holiday shopper on a budget, Gonzalez advises.

"This not only ensures that you'll take advantage of the best offers but will also help you avoid overspending and impulse buying," Gonzalez says.

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