There's no chance for many of us to put up our feet and relax after Thanksgiving Day.
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 brick-and-mortar stores.
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 helpful: https://bestblackfriday.com/store-hours
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: https://tinyurl.com/LAFD-closures
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 your car.
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 defective items.
- 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: https://tinyurl.com/BF-LA-deals and https://tinyurl.com/BF-LA-deals2
- 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 sight).
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.