The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, is the biggest shopping day of the year. When it comes to cashing-in on the day’s deals, the motto is “If you snooze you lose.”
Many stores will open at 12:01 a.m. on Friday and some retailers will even open their doors on Thanksgiving eve in hopes that they can entice people out of their post-turkey dinner food coma. For serious bargain-hunters, the day is the ultimate shopping extravaganza that requires a strategic plan, including store maps and item locations, that’s hatched days in advance. Others take a less organized approach, but are still hungry for a deal or this year’s hottest holiday toy.
The combination of too-good-to-be-true deals and shoppers hopped up on copious amounts of caffeine and tryptophan can be dangerous, though. Overzealous drivers can make parking lots a zoo and sleep-deprived shoppers are less likely to pay attention to the road. Unfortunately, Black Friday, which is considered the unofficial start to the holiday season, also brings out thieves, pickpockets, and others who are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers.
Whether you’re leaving the house at the crack of dawn (or dusk) in search of Black Friday deals or saving your holiday shopping for the last minute, keep these safety tips in mind when navigating the parking lots and wandering the aisles.
On the Road and in the Parking Lot:
- When backing out of a parking spot, be aware of waiting cars, others who are backing out at the same time, and motorists who speed through lanes.
- Lock all doors and roll up all windows even when leaving the car for a short period of time.
- When shopping, keep gifts in the trunk or hidden from view in the interior of the car. Also, put all of your packages in the trunk before departing one parking lot and driving to another. Waiting until your next shopping destination allows others to see packages go into the trunk of your car and then you departing into the mall or store.
- Avoid parking next to vans and large trucks that block your space from general vision of others.
- Make a mental note or write down exactly where you park your car to avoid wandering around longer than necessary.
- During the day, park away from buildings to reduce the chance of dings from car doors or shopping carts. At night, avoid secluded areas and park directly under lights whenever possible.
- Have your keys in hand when leaving a store. Also, look underneath your car before you reach it; criminals have been known to lie underneath in wait.
- Bring gifts in the house with you instead of leaving them in the car.
In the Store:
- Use a credit card to avoid thefts of large amounts of cash that are irreplaceable.
- Shopping with a single credit card is preferable because it’s easier to cancel one, rather than several, if your wallet or purse is stolen.
- Keep purses zipped and close to your body. Never leave a purse unattended in a shopping cart where it is more susceptible to theft.
- Keep a reference list of phone and account numbers for all your credit cards in a safe place at home.
- If possible, carry keys, cash, and credit cards separate from each other.
- For freedom of motion and clear visibility, do not overload yourself with bags when leaving a store and returning to your car. It’s difficult to defend yourself with when you’re carry a lot of packages.
- Use ATMs in well-populated, well lit locations. Do not throw ATM receipts away at the ATM location.
- Remember there is increased safety in numbers. Avoid walking alone and leave malls and stores well before closing time to assure a more active parking lot. Ask mall security to walk you to your car if you feel you are not safe.
In additions to remembering these safety tips, you should also review your insurance policies with your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent to make sure you have the proper coverage in case an accident or theft does occur. Liability coverage will protect you if you hit another motorist, collision coverage will cover the damage to your car, and comprehensive coverage will insure you for damage by vandals or theft of your vehicle.