There's no chance for many of us to put up our feet and relax after
It's Black Friday! And then, it's Cyber Monday.
Black Friday -- so-called because, supposedly, it's the day retailers get
back into the black, after trading in the red for much of the year -- is a
fantastic opportunity to score bargains.
Cyber Monday chiefly focuses on consumer electronics. It's a great day to
buy a computer or TV.
Although more and more of us do our Black Friday shopping online from the
comfort of home, some of the best bargains are still to be found in
Got to Get There
But first, you have to get there. And that poses some special risks for
drivers, both on the road and in parking lots.
The early-bird start means that bargain-hunters will be out driving in the
dark, which may be an unfamiliar experience for some. Roads and freeways
around malls will be exceptionally busy from an early hour.
In addition, there will be extra traffic from Thanksgiving Day travelers
making an early return home.
Once parked, one of the biggest risks is of theft from vehicles. That's
because a lot of shoppers return to their vehicles several times to stash
their bargains and return for more. Thieves may be watching and they know
when to strike -- as soon as you've turned your back.
With these risks in mind, here are some driving and parking safety tips for
Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Driving and Parking on Black Friday
The first thing you need to know is the opening times of the stores you
plan to visit. We've noticed in the past couple of years that fewer stores
are opening real early.
So, check out the times. You can usually find out this info by visiting
stores' websites or even phoning. But you might also find this listing
Armed with this information, plan your route carefully, taking note of any
road closures or diversions. It may not be wise to rely solely on your GPS.
The LA Fire Department is a good source on this:
If you intend to visit multiple stores, use the information you've
collected on opening times to work out the best route.
If you can, make an early start. Not only will it help you beat the rush,
it will put you near the head of the line outside your favorite store! Even
so, it's a good idea to pack a few snacks in the car just in case you get
stuck in heavy traffic.
Then follow the usual safe driving rules:Insurance
- Fuel-up before leaving, so you don’t get caught short in a traffic jam.
- No phone use while you're driving
- Avoid other distractions -- radios, noisy kids, street solicitors hawking
"Sale" signs, that sort of thing.
Don’t rush. Once you're on the road, drive with care, taking account of the
darkness and the impatience of other drivers. Keep your cool and don’t get
involved in resentment or rows -- otherwise you'll never get there.
This is particularly important if you find yourself cruising around looking
for a parking space. Don't get into a fight with another driver who
aggressively wants to park in the place you spotted. A mall parking lot is
usually where most accidents happen on Black Friday -- a quarter of them in
backing out of a parking space.
If necessary, be prepared to park some distance away -- but, for security,
ensure you park in a busy, well-lit area. And, wherever you park, make a
note of the exact location. Take a photo or use an app that keeps track of
Shop Safely and Wisely on Black Friday
It's easy to get caught up in the Black Friday frenzy, where you end up
actually buying things you don’t want, buying things that are overpriced,
or being scammed.
Here are some things to watch out for:
- Be cautious about shopping in "pop-up" stores. These are businesses that
temporarily occupy empty stores during the Holidays and then disappear
afterwards. You may not be able to exchange or get your money back for
- Just because an advertised price is dressed up to look like a bargain
doesn’t mean it really is. Check sale prices online before buying. There
are lots of price check apps like Smoopa, PriceGrabber, Shop Savvy and Shop
Advisor. You can also find details of LA bargains here:
- Some stores also advertise a fantastically low price but they only have
one item at that price, so you're almost certain to be disappointed. Don’t
let your disappointment persuade you to buy something else that isn't a
bargain at all.
- If you shop online, beware of fake websites, which scammers set up to
steal your money and your credit card details. Try to shop at known,
reputable retailers. If you haven't heard of a name before, research its
reputation before buying.
- Likewise, beware of knock-off brand items that are passed off as the real
thing. If the price is too good to be true, it's likely a scam.
- Watch out for parking lot vendors. These people set themselves up in mall
parking lots, selling items out the back of a van. They're nearly always a
scam. The boxes usually don’t contain the items described on the outside.
Are You Protected?
Before launching your Black Friday buying spree, it's good to know your
insurance position if you end up in trouble.
Your auto insurance will only cover your own vehicle from damage or theft
if you have collision and comprehensive coverage.
Your home insurance will generally cover you against theft from your car,
up to specified limits. (But it's still best to store your purchases out of
If you buy online and get scammed, you'll likely be covered for most of the
cost by your card company if you used a credit card.
If you're unsure and want to check up on or supplement your existing
insurances, please contact your friendly agent at Aldrich Taylor Insurance.