The holiday shopping season has officially started. While we still have Christmas Muzak and big sales, holiday shopping in 2020 is a completely different experience.
If you’re one of the 59% of shoppers who started shopping in early November, you’ve already got a head start on safe holiday shopping. If you haven’t set foot in any retail establishment since March, you’re also taking smart precautions. If you’re somewhere in the middle, be prepared for temperature checks, lines to get in, and mask requirements
Here are my guidelines on how to stay safe during the 2020 holiday shopping season.
1. Follow county public health guidelines. Throughout California, that means wearing a mask when entering any retail establishment. (Some businesses won’t allow face coverings like bandanas, so you’re better off with a mask that covers your nose and mouth.) That also means respecting physical distancing as much as possible. It’s hard to stay clear of people in the narrow aisles of a supermarket, but you can do your best to keep moving and stay mindful of a store’s floor stickers that indicate distancing guidelines.
2. Take advantage of curbside pickup. Best Buy has converted all in-store pickup to curbside pickup to reduce the number of people in its stores. It has also extended curbside pickup hours so you have more opportunity to pick up your orders quickly.
3. Shop Online. Even if you missed Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you’ll still find a wealth of good deals through December.
4. Shop earlier and later. When shopping in person, visit during off-peak hours such as weekday mornings or near closing to reduce exposure to others.
5. Shop outdoors. Shop at open-air markets if you can practice good social distancing. Most of the vendors are likely local artists and artisans, so you’ll be doing your part for the #shoplocal movement as well.
6. Prevent fraud. Keep your personal information (and bank accounts) safe by following these tips:
– Don’t click on links in emails before verifying the sender. It could be a phishing scam. If you notice spelling errors or an unusual domain, delete. Also don’t ever disclose sensitive information, like your social security number.
– Make sure the site is encrypted. When you go to a website, look for a lock symbol in the left-hand side of the browser window. When you click on the lock, it should say “connection is secure.” That means the site uses a private connection and the information you send is private. If you see a red flag, don’t visit the site.
– Use one credit card. A credit card has a higher level of protection than a debit card according to the Federal Trade Commission. Use one credit card for online shopping to reduce risk. Pick a card with a low credit limit to reduce the odds of scammers making large purchases with your card.
– Don’t let a site save your credit card information for later. The more you do this, the higher the odds of a hack.
7. Prevent theft. Don’t leave packages sitting on your front porch or apartment building lobby. As soon as possible after your order is delivered, bring it inside. Thieves routinely break into apartment buildings and other locations to steal all those Amazon deliveries. Don’t be an easy target.
8. Drive safe. If you’re traveling, follow all necessary safety precautions. Put chains on the tires if you’re driving somewhere with snow and/or ice. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Replace any outdated items in your emergency preparedness kit. Remember all my previous lectures about driving the speed limit, and saying No to distracted and impaired driving. It’s not worth the fines and the hassle if you get caught, and it’s definitely not worth the pain and suffering if you get into an accident.
As you make your list and check it twice, remember that this holiday shopping season is one like no other. Take extra precautions to stay safe while shopping in store, online and when you’re running all your holiday shopping errands.
If your holiday travels end with a serious accident, please get medical attention right away (virtually or in person, depending on the extent of your injuries). If you need help getting compensated for those injuries, call our office for a free consultation.