Holiday shopping can frazzle the brain. Shoppers are trying to remember gift lists while simultaneously calculating whether it's better to use a coupon or sign up for an in-store credit card. Personal safety at the mall and in the parking lot is the last thing on most people's minds, but it should truly be top of mind.
Poorly lit parking garages, arms full of packages, keys buried in the bottom of overflowing purses, and other factors can make shoppers particularly easy targets for predators. To help you stay safe this holiday shopping season, consider the following list of personal safety tips.
1. Stay aware of your surroundings by scanning your environment.
No matter how busy you are, do not allow your mind to wander. It might seem important in the moment to be making a to-do list in your head, but if you're worrying about appetizers for tomorrow's holiday party, you might not notice someone following you to your vehicle.
2. Even if it means that you have to walk a bit farther, park in well-lit areas.
It is best to avoid shopping after sundown, but if you must do so, try to bring a friend or family member along with you. When you park, avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows. You want to keep your car as visible to as many people as possible. Also avoid parking next to tall shrubs or plants that could block views of your vehicle.
3. Don't wear your bag or purse so that the strap crosses your body.
Wearing a strap across your body makes you more connected to your bag. If someone tries to steal your purse, you will be pulled with the strap. You can become unbalanced and put into a vulnerable position, or you could end up in a physical altercation with the assailant. If your purse is draped on one shoulder, you can easily let go of it.
4. Dress casually and comfortably.
The mall during holiday shopping season is not the time to make a fashion statement. It is better to leave the high heels and flashy accessories at home. Jeans and sneakers will help you blend in, and if needed, enable you to make a quick getaway. Also avoid wearing large and expensive-looking jewelry that can draw additional attention to you.
5. Don't hesitate to ask a security guard to walk you to your car.
If you are shopping at night, and the crowds at the mall have thinned out for the day, taking an extra step to stay safe is always a good idea. Or, plan ahead and pay the few extra dollars to valet park your car so you do not have to walk alone with arms full of bags.