Thanksgiving is just a day away, followed by Black Friday, the official start of the holiday shopping season. However, this year the shopping landscape is changing. The number of retailers opening on Thanksgiving is growing and the doors are opening earlier than ever, some opening at what most people might say is dinner time (6 p. m.) and others continuing throughout the night and early hours of Black Friday morning. Before, during or after Black Friday, AAA urges shoppers to use caution when shopping, 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 six fewer shopping days this season, holiday shopping should not come at the expense of safety,” said Jenny M. Robinson, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “This year more retailers are opening earlier than ever before (nearly a dozen major chains), just after dinner on Thanksgiving night, and 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.”
According to the National Retail
Federation (NRF), more than 88
million consumers shopped online and in-stores on Black Friday last year and more than 35 million consumers shopped on Thanksgiving Day. And the shopping crowds could grow before the turkey gets cold, with many more retailers opening their doors on Turkey Day. Stores which will open on Thanksgiving include: Target, Walmart, Sears, Kmart, Macy’s, Kohl’s, J. C. Penney, Toys R Us and Best Buy, as reported by the Associated Press.
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.
AAA’s “Top 7” Safety Tips for Black Friday
Stay on guard in parking lots. Park in well-lit areas and be aware of your surroundings. Choose a well-lit area to park 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.
Park smart. Park straight and avoid parking next to crooked cars. If possible, avoid backing out of a space by either backing into it to park or finding a “pull through” space.
See and be seen. Use your headlights when scouring parking garages for spaces, even during the day. 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.
Obey the laws. Drive the speed limit, stop at stop signs, buckle up, don’t park in handicap spaces, don’t text and/or talk on the phone.
Watch for children, and “distracted” pedestrians. It can be difficult to see small children in busy parking lots, who may make quick, unpredictable movements. watch out for those not watching out for themselves as they are focused on their smart phones.
Lock your car and hide valuables. Thieves like to window shop. Place shopping bags and valuables in the trunk.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one alcohol-impaired death occurs every 45 minutes across the country, with alcohol-impaired drivers contributing to one out of every three traffic deaths. If you have been drinking, leave the driving to someone that wasn’t.