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November 26, 2014 Published in Business, Other News

AAA Urges Shoppers To Put Safety First When Hunting For Holiday Bargains

AAAIt is called “Christmas Creep.” The holiday shopping landscape is changing with Black Friday shopping sales starting as early as Thanksgiving night. Like a snowball, building upon itself and becoming larger as it rolls downhill, the list of stores opening on Thanksgiving Day is growing.

While rushing to store after store this holiday shopping season, safety may not be the first thing on our minds. Fewer Black Friday shopping-related casualties were reported last year. AAA Mid-Atlantic is urging shoppers to use caution when shopping this Thanksgiving weekend, especially in dark parking lots and garages.

Whether it’s the thrill of holiday shopping hustle and bustle, the hunt for the ultimate gift deal, or panic that there are only 29 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, holiday shopping should not come at the expense of safety, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic.

“It’s fun to shop until you drop, but shoppers have to use common sense and exercise caution when shopping this Thanksgiving weekend, especially in dark parking lots and garages,” said John B. Townsend II, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “We tend to underestimate the risk of driving through parking lots because everyone’s going so slowly. Even fender benders can injure passengers and the damage to vehicles can be surprisingly costly to repair.”

An estimated 25.6 million people say they will check out retailers’ Thanksgiving Day deals and shop on Thursday, while about 95.5 million people will go shopping on Black Friday, projects the National Retail Federation (NRF). Of note, 74 percent of those who plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day say they shopped on Thanksgiving Day last year.

This year more retailers are opening earlier than ever before, just after dinner on Thanksgiving night. Others will open before daybreak on Black Friday. AAA advises shoppers to be aware of their surroundings, especially in dark parking lots, and stay alert while out and about.

To this end, AAA Mid-Atlantic also reminds shoppers to pack their patience when navigating through crowded parking lots and garages. Careless and inattentive driving in these tight areas could result in additional holiday expenses, including fender-benders, personal injuries and a general Grinch-like attitude. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 20 percent of all vehicle collisions that result in damage claims occur in parking lots.

Since this is the start of the holiday shopping season, the auto club offers the following advice for navigating parking lots and protecting vehicles and pedestrians as they seek those special gifts and door busters:


AAA Mid-Atlantic’s “Top 10” Safety Tips for Black Friday

  1. Stay on guard in parking lots. Be aware of your surroundings and park in well-lit areas when shopping during early morning hours and at night. When returning to your vehicle, have keys ready in hand, check under your car and in the back seat before getting in, and lock your doors as soon as you get in. Watch for loiters and report suspicious people.
  2. See and be seen. Use your headlights when scouring parking garages for spaces, even in the daytime. Avoid parking between a pair of tall SUVs or minivans where it might be hard for you to back out of the space. If you can’t see well enough to back out safely, get help from one of your passengers.
  3. Slow down, buckle up and obey the laws. Drive the speed limit, stop at stop signs, don’t park in handicap spaces, and don’t text and/or talk on the phone. Ensure all passengers are buckled up even if it is a short trip to another part of the parking lot as even a low-speed collision can result in injuries.
  4. Head for the side door. Many shoppers prefer to park near their favorite stores or near the mall entrance. Most malls have secondary entrances on the sides and those entrances usually have less traffic and additional convenient spaces.
  5. Play the outfield. Outlying areas normally have more open spaces, lighter traffic and a lower risk of collision. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to walk off the holiday treats. In some cases, however, those spaces may not be as secure so be aware of the risks.
  6. Refrain from reverse. If possible, avoid backing out of a space by either backing into it or pulling through two spaces that are open nose-to-nose.
  7. Look out for children and distracted pedestrians. It can be difficult to see small children in busy parking lots. Children may make quick, unpredictable movements. Hold the hands of your children to keep them safe from traffic. Also, watch out for those not watching out for themselves as they are focused on their smart phones.
  8. Stay on track and alert. Pedestrians should use walkways and crosswalks, if available. If walking in the traffic lanes is unavoidable, be alert for subtle cues – including exhaust or reverse lights – that signal a vehicle is about to pull out.
  9. Lock your car and hide valuables. Thieves like to window shop. Place all shopping bags and valuables in the trunk, including the GPS and its mount, and always lock your car. Remove any evidence, such as GPS suction cup marks from the vehicle’s windshield. It takes a thief just seconds to smash a window and steal your shopping loot.
  10. Wait until Cyber Monday. Many retailers will have special online promotions on Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving.’

According to NRF’s survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, which provides a preliminary look at shopping expectations over Thanksgiving weekend, six in 10 (61.1%) say they will or may shop either Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Avoid the crowds by ordering online since some Black Friday deals may be available on Thanksgiving Day or early Friday.


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