If you’re here (here being this website), chances are you’re a pretty savvy web shopper. And if you’re a pretty savvy web shopper, chances are you’d rather shove a candy cane in your eye than set foot in a shopping mall between now and February. But sometimes there’s no way around it. You have to go to the mall. If that’s the case, here are 10 tips to make a trip to the mall during the holiday rush a little less irritating, soul crushing, and time consuming.
1. Make a List. Be as specific as possible.
Know what you’re looking for, for who, any sizes if applicable, and where you’re most likely to find it. Write it down, and take the list with you. Do. Not. Browse. The last thing you want to be is the person who heads to the mall during this time of year, just waiting for something to jump out at them. Those types are plaque clogging up the arteries.
Browsing can lead to trouble. Focus Clark! FOCUS!
2. Make an order of the stores you’ll visit.
Take that list of what you’re after and where you’re most likely to find it, and map it out. Go online and familiarize yourself with the geography of the mall. Create order to what stores you’re going to visit after you hit the doors. You want to avoid doubling back. This is a strict, set em’ up and knock em’ down type situation.
3. Park Far Away
This is probably going to happen anyway, but there’s two reasons for this: 1. You’re less likely to have your car dinged/smashed into, and 2., the more time you spend using your legs, the easier it’ll be to get out of the mall parking lot. Do NOT play the “Parking Game.” Y’know, going up and down the rows, trying to find the best spot possible. You’ll waste time on the front end, plus, you’ll trap yourself among all those who are doing the same thing when you’re trying to leave.
Pretty sure that’s far enough.
4. Set a smart Arrival Time
Shoot for a mid to late morning arrival time, say, on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Take an early lunch if you can. This can make a major difference in how much time you
waste spend inside a mall. Avoiding the post-work rush both inside the mall and on the streets surrounding it is key. Note: There is no “good” time on Black Friday.
5. Leave your coat in the car
Unless you’re expecting a blizzard, leave your coat in your car. It’ll just add excess warmth and bulk once you get into that human hive of body heat (and body odor). Wear a lightweight blazer if you need extra pockets. The coat is just one more thing to take care of if you end up trying something on for yourself. Wait. No. Don’t do that. Resist temptation! STICK TO THE LIST.
He’s overheating! Dammit Clark, and you’re STILL NOT FOCUSING!
6. Avoid Santa, and all that surrounds him, at all costs.
Not only is it a traffic jam, it’s a traffic jam where 20% – 35% of the participants have poop in their pants. The emotion in the air is tangible. Equal parts fear, excitement, exhaustion and anticipation, every mall’s Santa station (and the chaos that surrounds it) could benefit greatly from a dedicated pack of Border Collies. But that’s not happening anytime soon. Go above, around, outside then back in. Whatever you have to do. Just don’t go through.
Would rather visit the North Pole.
7. Use big box stores / anchor stores as alternate foot routes
For avoiding Santa, or, for getting around other log jams. Use the less successful big-box stores as ways to cut around the crowds. They have multiple entrances & exits, as well as escalators. Need to get to the 2nd floor, but there’s a mass of humanity at The Apple store between you and the stairs? Duck inside Sears and use their escalator. Probably not gonna be a lot of people in there.
8. Bring Hand sanitizer
Speaking of escalators… Y’know who just touched that escalator railing? Some Prepper who’s not only praying for a pandemic (so he can show off his awesome stash of doomsday goodies), he also thinks a flu shot will give you gills. Don’t go full germaphobe, but having a small bottle of hand sanitizer on you isn’t a bad idea (and neither is being prepared for a disaster, without getting aroused by the idea of turning your neighborhood into Mad Max).
Licking an escalator rail haunts Howie Mandel’s dreams.
9. Know your exit strategy. The route, specifically.
How are you getting out of there? Is there a good-luck-trying-to-turn-left deathtrap you need to avoid? If there’s a back entrance, or, less commonly used exit from your mall… use it. If you can take a few city streets to get a highway on-ramp one exit down from the main one everyone else is using, go that way.
10. Don’t. Instead, stick to online and/or small businesses.
You sure you can’t just do this online? That’s obviously a biased opinion, but do a quick cost/benefit analysis of doing your shopping in-person vs. online. Look at shipping costs, return policies, your timetable for shipping / wrapping, and compare that to the cash you’d spend on gas or public transportation, and the black-hole time-suck that is in-person shopping at a mall. For the gifts that you’ve just got to be in-person to purchase, strongly consider small businesses, which are often located in more attractive, less crowded areas when compared to a mall.