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It is hard to believe, but half of the population, 50.7 percent, in the United States are “planning to shop or considering shopping” during the Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend. With one out of two people shopping this weekend, that means the malls and outlets will be jammed over capacity and so will the parking lots. Black Friday will again emerge as the busiest and biggest shopping day of the year, although shoppers are increasingly drawn to the convenience of online shopping on Cyber Monday. But a shopping spree is never carefree.
“Whether braving the elements and throngs at “midnight madness,” or rising early to catch “door- busters,” safety might be the last thing on our minds, but it needs to be top of mind,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, Public and Government Affairs Manager at AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Shopping online allows people to avoid the crowds and shop at their convenience, but there is a dark side to Cyber Monday, as there is with Black Friday, warns AAA Insurance.
To protect your financial information while shopping online on Cyber Monday, only use secure checkouts. On Black Friday thieves like to window shop, so lock your car and place all shopping bags, just purchased Christmas presents, and valuables in the trunk.
Last year, Cyber Monday online sales soared to $3.25 billion, comprising a “155 percent” boom in online traffic. Cyber Monday 2016 was the “biggest day in the history of U.S. e-commerce.” Will sales records be shattered on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday? The National Retail Federation is estimating that 164 million people plan to go shopping or will consider doing so during the Thanksgiving holiday. That tally includes persons going shopping on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, the Sunday after Thanksgiving andCyber Monday.
With consumer sentiment at a 13-year high, consumers are likely to shop both on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If money is tight, consider using layaway. If you are shopping online, “keep copies of your order number, the refund and return policies, shipping costs and warranties,” advises the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
AAA Insurance is advising consumers to use caution, avoid distractions and keep calm while searching for that perfect parking spot and the perfect present for your loved ones and friends. Unfortunately, tempers run high, and patience becomes thin, as drivers circle the parking lot for a coveted spot.
Black Friday And Cyber Monday Safety Tips:
- Don’t shop alone. One way to alleviate Black Friday annoyances is to bring someone with you. Shop with a family member or friend, who can either help you seek out those deals you’re looking for, at least, be someone with whom you can vent about the insanity of Black Friday.
- Keep an eye on youngsters. If you have children with you on Black Friday, be sure to keep them close at all times. Stores can become very crowded, and it can be easy to lose sight of a child. Make a plan involving a place to meet in case you get separated.
- Keep cash and credit cards out of sight. Black Friday is an extremely busy day at many stores. So, keep your credit cards and cash in your wallet or purse until you are ready to hand them to a cashier.
- Remember where you parked. This is an important one, especially if you are shopping at a major outlet, retail center or mall. Your afternoon is sure to take a turn for the worse if you forget where you left your car, resulting in you having to lug around shopping bags while you search for it.
- Hide your purchases. If you’re driving on Black Friday, keep everything you buy in the trunk of your car, if possible. That way, potential thieves won’t be tempted to break into your vehicle.
- Save your receipts. This includes both the ones you receive while shopping in stores on Black Friday as well as printing out ones on Cyber Monday. This way, you can see if you have been correctly charged for everything you purchased.
- Be careful when shopping online. If you’re purchasing items on Cyber Monday, beware of bargains from companies with which you are not familiar. “If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is,” the maxim goes. Look for the locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address to ensure that you’re shopping with secure websites. Also, don’t respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information as legitimate businesses will not ask you to do so.
How To Shop Until You Drop:
- Get some sleep. This might mean altering your sleeping schedule a little if you intend to either visit stores after midnight on Black Friday or wake up early for those crack-of-dawn sales. Trust us when we say the last thing you want to do is be on your feet for hours – whether it’s standing in a line or fighting your way through a crowded store – without enough rest in advance.
- Be Prepared. In other words, do some research beforehand. Search online to find out which stores are offering deals on the items you’re planning on purchasing. Also, compare prices with other stores or retailers and decide which sites you intend to visit before you step out of your door. Be sure to bring any necessary coupons and ads with you.
- Have a budget. Many people allow the excitement of the moment to overrule smart spending and end up shelling out big bucks on Black Friday, which ends up defeating the purpose of the day. Figure out in advance how much you intend to spend and try to stay within that range.
- Manage your expectations. There is pride of place when you are the first shopper in line. Chances are, you’re not going to get every single bargain you’d hoped for during the course of your day. Plus, items will likely sell out. In that case, keep in mind that Cyber Monday is just around the corner.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than 937,000 members in Maryland. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit AAA.com.