It’s December at the mall. As you maneuver your way through a packed parking lot and push your cart down crowded aisles with a long list in your hand, you suddenly realize that sometimes the most wonderful time of the year can feel anything but.
Thankfully, there’s a way to make your holiday gift-giving season cheerful instead of stressful. If you follow these tips, you can avoid the crazy crowds – even if you still have all of your shopping left to do.
Know When Not to Shop
First, the best way to avoid holiday crowds is to know when to shop and when not to. So when are the worst days to hit the stores?
ShopperTrak has predicted the 10 busiest days for holiday shopping in 2014, and the dates that made the list have two obvious things in common – most are on or near weekends and several are on huge sale days. Take a look at the list compiled by the retail-technology analysis company for yourself:
1. Saturday, Dec. 20 (Super Saturday)
2. Friday, Dec. 26 (day after Christmas)
3. Friday, Nov. 28 (Black Friday)
4. Saturday, Dec. 13
5. Monday, Dec. 22
6. Friday, Dec. 19
7. Friday, Nov. 21
8. Saturday, Dec. 6
9. Tuesday, Dec. 23
10. Saturday, Nov. 22
ShopperTrak forecasts that these top 10 crowd-filled offenders will account for 28% of total holiday traffic this year.
You can escape the impending holiday shopping melees by shopping on days other than those listed above – especially those near the top of the list. If possible, visit stores during the week when many people may be at home or at work instead of the mall. Note that none of the busiest days is a Wednesday or a Thursday.
Additionally, you’ll notice that many of the anticipated busiest days will take place late in the month of December, during the final rush before Christmas. Try to get all of your shopping done as early as possible so you won’t end up surrounded by shoppers in stores full of procrastinators.
Shop in Cyberspace
Opting to go shopping on weekdays or early in the month may be less hectic, but if you really want to beat the holiday crowds altogether, try to not even set foot in a store at all. In the world of the hyper-connected shopper, online deals make it possible to shop from the comfort of your own home.
If you do decide to make purchases from virtual storefronts, be sure to order as early as possible so your gifts will arrive on time. Before placing an order, check shipping estimates to time the delivery of your packages.
Also, when shopping online, remember that even though you’ll be dodging the crowds, cyber transactions can have drawbacks of their own. Adhere to the following precautions to help keep your purchases – and your financial information – secure.
- Make purchases only from reputable retailers.
- Input your payment information only over an encrypted connection.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card for greater protection.
- Don’t shop in public or over public Wi-Fi connections.
Finally, if you truly want to steer clear of the crush of last-minute shoppers, and you’d rather see your merchandise in person instead of on a tablet screen, you’d probably be wise to shop small this holiday season.
Small businesses likely won’t be as popular destinations this year as the local mall or major retailers will be, which will make them an optimal place to shop in-store and avoid crowds at the same time.
Plus, small or locally owned businesses oftentimes boast gifts you won’t find anywhere else.
So, when you sit down to plan out your gift-buying schedule for the season, take all of these factors into account as you determine which days to go and when to stay home.
Mall crowd image via Shutterstock