Old Kris Kringle never leaves home without his trusty reindeer and that long list in hand. Take some tips from the Man in Red and be prepared as you check presents off your “Nice List” on Black Friday — or earlier — this year.
If you’ll be among the millions of Americans expected to shop on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, consider the following advice from the National Crime Prevention Council to help your shopping experience remain a safe and happy one.
1. Stay alert.
Some of the busiest driving times will be after the sun has gone down — or before it’s come up. Pay attention to people crossing streets and walking to and from their cars. They may be carrying lawn chairs, blankets and coffees to wait in line before stores open. Shoppers also may be carrying large bundles back to their cars after finishing their shopping sprees. Shoppers may not be concentrating on where they are walking, so it’s important for drivers to be extra cautious of their surroundings. Always look behind you and to both sides when pulling out of a parking spot and remember to keep your headlights on until there is enough daylight out.
It also helps to create a game plan before shopping so you don’t get distracted by window displays or store advertisements while driving. These days, most retailers announce their Black Friday sales in advance. Give yourself enough time to review ads and fliers prior to going out to shop so that you know when doors open and where the store is located.
2. Park in well-lit areas and use a buddy system when possible.
If you aren’t shopping with a friend and you feel uncomfortable taking your new purchases out to your car alone, ask for a security guard to help escort you to your car.
3. Have your keys in hand.
We’ve all been there — juggling packages, bags, and purses while trying to remember where we parked the car and searching for keys tucked deep in a pocket or at the bottom of a purse. Avoid being caught off guard with your arms full or, worse, with your bags strewn around your vehicle, by fishing out your keys before you head to your car.
4. Don’t leave your new purchases visible.
Once you get home, you’ll likely be stashing away the presents in attic crawlspaces or secret cupboards, away from prying eyes. It’s a good idea to keep them hidden in your car, too. Use the blankets you brought with you to keep warm in line to hide away your treasures in your car, if they can’t be tucked away into your trunk.
Finally, as we enter the holiday shopping season, it’s important to be prepared and be patient. If you’re scouting big Black Friday deals, you can expect to sit or stand in long lines before doors open. Dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes. If you have room, packing a lawn chair, blanket and some snacks in your trunk can help make your wait more comfortable. Just make sure to leave enough room to load your supplies and presents back up before you head home.