According to industry-wide forecasts, 2018’s holiday-related retail growth rate is expected to rise up to 22% via the online shopping sales end alone. Analysts expect online shopping to account for all the holiday season gift-related activities, but that leaves 43% of shopping to be completed via traditional brick and mortar routes. While some small towns are losing retail steam, over 100,000 strip malls and extended retail centers nationwide are still luring in early and last-minute shoppers by the droves. While many businesses amp up their holiday season security needs that’s not always enough to keep customers and their packages or possessions completely safe from harm or theft. Fortunately, there are some simple tips for safe shopping during the holidays.
Have a Parking Plan
Many people arrive early for shopping deals and end up parking in the back of a store lot. After all, there are usually loads of extra parking spots there. The problem is, the lighting is often limited and that can be a haven for potential criminals. So before choosing that open back lot row, look around for the best lighting options. It may be dawn when you arrive, but it could very easily be dark when you finish your errands.
Technological distractions can lure danger or criminal activity like a magnet. Personal injuries and car-related accidents can occur simply walking in the parking lot when attention is elsewhere. Seasoned thieves or those looking for an easy score can bump into you and steal a wallet or credit cards while you’re playing on your phone. And even something like updating your social media accounts with pictures or deal notifications can alert criminals to your whereabouts for easy pickings.
Keep Packages and Valuables Secure and Out of View
There’s nothing wrong with taking a mid-shopping break to load up the car with bulky coats and packages. But criminals are on the lookout for loaded cars too. A burglary occurs every 15 seconds across America, and the Midwest is the target for about 20% of those. Parking lots are easy targets around the holidays due to quick access and offer a great haul. Store your valuables and packages as needed but keep them in the trunk or hidden beneath coats or blankets.
Use a Shopping Buddy System
Unless your main goal is to just run in, grab what you need, and leave, shopping is almost always more fun as a team sport. An extra set of hands and eyes also increases safety while reducing your chances of being targeted by criminals. Chances are if you still have holiday shopping to complete, so does a friend, loved one or even a coworker. Shopping with a buddy or group can add even more joy to the season.
Have Your Kids Find Security if They Get Separated
A child goes missing every 40 seconds across the U.S. That equates to about 460,000 missing kids per year and 1,500 of those are kidnappings. While it’s rare for a child to be abducted at a store, it’s certainly not impossible and often the first things horrified parents think of when they discover their kids aren’t within vocal range. Of course, almost always the child just became distracted and wandered off for a moment or got swept away in an excited crowd. If your kids are old enough to walk around on their own, have a plan in place for them to find a store security guard in the event they lose you or become scared. Whether in a strip mall, a giant indoor mall, or box store, extra holiday season security needs are a must for everyone involved.