As shoppers gear up to hit the malls and other retailers in search of Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday bargains, AAA Mid-Atlantic urges shoppers to use caution, especially in parking lots and garages.
“Whether it’s the thrill of holiday shopping hustle and bustle or the hunt for the ultimate gift deal, 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, after dark 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.”
An estimated 152 million people are expected to shop over Black Friday weekend, up 10% from last year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Last year, NRF estimated there would be 138 million people at the stores, when 212 million actually turned out.
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 Black Friday Safety Tips
- Stay on guard in parking lots. Pay attention to where you park, note parking lot signs and markers. Choose a well-lit area to park during early morning hours and at night. When returning to your vehicle, have keys ready in hand and check the car’s interior before entering, using a penlight at night. Report suspicious people or cars.
- 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.
- Stay on track and alert. Pedestrians should use walkways and crosswalks, if available. If walking in traffic lanes is unavoidable, be alert for cues – including exhaust or reverse lights – that signal a vehicle is about to pull out. When behind the wheel, always be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially small children. It can be difficult to see small children in busy parking lots, who may make quick, unpredictable movements.
- Thieves like to window shop. Place all shopping bags and valuables in the trunk, including the GPS units and their mounts. It takes a thief just seconds to smash a window and steal your shopping loot.
- Wait until Cyber Monday. Avoid the crowds and take advantage of special online promotions. Shoppers looking for discounts should check out www.AAA.com/shopping and shop with great member values everyday.