Shopping Safely in Stores During the Holiday Season

Last week we talked about staying safe online, and in that time Marriott hotel group announced a security breach. That should be another warning that our online information is not always safe! But we can’t forget about the dangers of shopping in brick-and-mortar retail shops, either. We don’t want to be all doom and gloom about the world, but unfortunately, there are people who prey on others for their own gain, and it’s smart to be prepared.

And isn’t it fun to go shopping during the holidays? The lights, the decorations, the sales, the special fairs and craft markets—you’re missing out if you’re shopping online! But don’t forget that there are security cameras watching, others are watching too. So here are our best tips to keep in mind before heading out to your local shopping mecca:

  • Think before leaving the car: Do you need your coat? Many malls and shops are warm and dry, and you’ll just end up carrying it, moving it around as you try to keep track of purchases, your wallet, purse, keys, etc. But if the weather looks like rain, grab an umbrella for the hike back to the car.
  • Don’t be distracted: These days, we multi-task like demons. But while you’re looking for the best deal on your phone while headed to your next shopping destination, you could be caught off guard by someone who sees you’re not focused on your surroundings. If you want to check prices, sit down on a bench in a crowded area, or put your back up against a wall—or better yet, stay in the store.
  • Park safely: Yes, parking in a mall lot during the holidays makes you want to scream, but finding the right spot is more than just about proximity to the shop’s door. It may be light outside when you park, but the days draw in early and you might come out after sunset. Even if it’s the afternoon, look for places with ample lights above the parking space, and make a note of the location of your car. Before heading out to the lot, gather all your packages securely, have your keys ready in your hand, and walk purposely to your car. If you’re unsure at all, check to see if the mall has a walk-out service or a security guard who can help.
  • Multiple trips: Sometimes you have to drop off packages in your car and head back into the mall, or go to more than one shopping center to get everything on your list. When this happens, make sure to stow your packages securely in the trunk, or cover them in the back of your SUV or back seat to ensure they are not easily seen by thieves checking cars. Ensure your car alarm is activated before leaving your vehicle.

Do you have any safety tips for shoppers this holiday season? If so, please share in the comments!

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