Season of Safety: Safer Shopping
The Holiday season definitely comes with its fair share of preparations. If you’re like most people, this includes a lot of shopping. Whether you’re buying groceries for a holiday get together or in search of reasonably priced gifts, you can expect a few extra trips to the store in the coming month. And with a survey revealing that 71% of holiday consumers plan to shop over the Thanksgiving holiday (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.) and 36% of Holiday shoppers have not even begun their shopping (as of the end of October and beginning of November*), you can expect those shopping trips to be especially busy.
In all the chaos, it’s easy to get distracted, and even easier to become victim to seasonal predators. Here are our tips for staying safe, and still making the most of those shopping days – even the last minute ones (you know who you are)!
Plan Ahead as much as Possible
At GGB, we adore a good plan. It keeps us feeling secure, and well, sane. Having a plan for your shopping trips will keep you from spending your holidays in line at the register. Ask (and answer) these questions, then plan accordingly.
- What Items am I buying?
- Where am I buying them?
- Is there a time these stores will be less busy/When is the best time for me to shop?
- Should I bring someone to help (carry bags, mind the kids, etc.)?
- Can I avoid any shopping trips altogether (by shopping online, delegating to someone else, etc.)?
Now, you can plan your shopping wisely, avoid any unnecessary trips, and make the experience as smooth as possible.
This is a biggie. With the holidays being a busy and often stressful time, we can easily lose focus, as well as become too fatigued to notice. Removing and minimizing distractions can keep you on track and SAFE. Remember, that just a few seconds on your phone is all a predator needs to pick up a bag you’ve set down or slip a wallet from an open purse. Here are some of our favorite tips.
- Stay off your phone. Avoid checking emails, texts and SNS notifications until you get home. If you absolutely MUST take a phone call, do it in a well-lit and safe place from a vantage point where you can see any potential dangers in advance. Do not cross streets or stand in high-traffic areas while on the phone.
- Leave the kids at home if possible. If it isn’t essential to bring your kids with you on a shopping trip, have them stay home. It helps keep you and the kids safe. Plan a special, shopping-free outing if you would like to enjoy seasonal events and decorations together. You can enjoy Santa’s Village a lot more when you’re not lugging around shopping bags.
- Enlist a Shopping Buddy. If some distractions can’t be avoided, bring a Shopping Buddy. You can take turns shopping while the other manages distractions. Watching kids and shopping bags, going for restroom and food breaks, even taking phone calls becomes much easier and safer with the extra help.
Stay Aware of Your Surroundings
For lone shoppers, staying alert is essential. Those braving the stores solo are prime targets for theft or worse. Staying safe this holiday means being especially careful handling your money and going to and from your vehicle. This is a very important point for those unable to plan their shopping trips for daylight hours.
- Park in a visible, well-lit area. The parking lots will be packed at many of the large stores and shopping malls, and this is an imperative tip for anyone shopping at night. Try to find a spot in a well-lit section that is visible to people in the main shopping area or close to a main/active walkway. Finally, don’t forget to lock your vehicle or thieves will get a lot more than dad’s new sweater.
- Mind your Money. Start by making sure to take only the essentials. Bring only the cards you intend to use (like those with the best fraud protection), and keep the amount of cash you carry to a minimum. Next, keep wallets and handbags towards the front of your body. We recommend not bringing a purse at all, but if you need one, try to use one with a strap that goes across your body.
- Stay Alert. Stay conscious and attentive of yourself, your belongings and the people around you.
- Avoid setting purses and shopping bags down.
- Pay special attention to your things when standing in lines.
- If possible, walk with or near larger groups when going to and from your car.
- Check on your belongings often; especially when leaving seating areas or restaurants.
Be Mindful of YOU
This tip is pretty simple. Getting ready for the holidays can get very busy for anyone -including us. So, don’t forget to check-in on yourself. Ask these questions before you get in the car.
- How do you feel physically? Are you tired? Could you be catching a cold?
- How do you feel mentally? Are you overwhelmed? Are you irritable? Are you turning into a crazy person?
- Do you need to do this shopping trip today? Can you reschedule it? Can you cancel it altogether?
Holiday shopping is always a bigger task than just going to the store. It’s easy to forget about taking care of ourselves. So, if you find yourself having a moment where everything is simply too much, just stop. Take a moment, take a breath and check in with yourself.
The Holidays should be an enjoyable time. Use the tips above to take some of the worry out of shopping this year. Stay safe (and sane) out there.
The Holiday Season is here! Between shopping for gifts, planning for trips and/or throwing the perfect party, the holidays can be a high-stress, low-rest time for many of us. In our Season of Safety series, we’re giving you our favorite tips on how to Plan and Protect so you can really enjoy the holidays.