A trip to the mall can be a pleasant, leisurely way to spend the day, but in the month of December, it’s a whole different ball game. But, despite the crowds and chaos of the holidays, most of us will be making a trip to the mall this month.
To make your December shopping as leisurely as possible, I’ve compiled a list of 12 mall shopping hacks ranging from the best place to park to where to find the shortest line for the cashier.
Hack #1: Map out your shopping
Photo by Arina P Habich
Your cell phone’s GPS won’t help you navigate the mall (yet), so shop prepared with an old-fashioned printed map. Most mall websites will have a printable map so you won’t have to worry about always finding the nearest directory. If you forget to print one, head to the mall’s main office or visitor’s center and ask for one.
Hack #2: Bag check, please
Most mall stores don’t have shopping carts, which can make it difficult when you’re juggling eight shopping bags worth of stuff you already bought. Some malls have free bag storage where you can stash your bags while you continue on with your shopping.
Hack #3: Find the “hidden” cashier
The most out of the way cashier is probably going to have the shortest lines. Lingerie departments are typically tucked away in a corner and are a good bet for short lines. Or, try the bath and bedding section, which is usually on the top or basement level. Avoid lines near store entrances or in the major clothing departments.
Hack #4: Buy a gift card to the mall
Gift cards are a go-to for those hard-to-shop-for people in our lives, but sometimes you don’t even know where to buy the gift card. Many malls sell gift cards that are accepted at all stores, making it the perfect solution. Your recipient has options and you don’t have to worry about the fees sometimes associated with credit card-branded general purpose gift cards.
Hack #5: Ask for a box
Many clothing stores will supply you with a free box so you can get a head start on gift wrapping. Gift wrapping boxes are one of those little holiday expenses that add up, so you might as well get them for free when you can. Ask for one even if your item isn’t a gift.
If you’re shopping at one of these 15 stores, check out their free or low-cost gift wrapping services!
Hack #6: Head for the luxury lounge
In-store restrooms are often kept in much better shape than the mall’s public restrooms. To maximize your chance of scoring a pristine bathroom without a long line, head to the mall’s designer department store. Even if you can’t afford to shop there, no one says you can’t enjoy the amenities.
Hack #7: Shop before closing
It’s no surprise that weekends typically see the largest crowds, but you can usually avoid the chaos if you shop the hour before closing. Plan your timeline strategically. Often, department stores have extended holiday hours, so while the mall may close at 10, Macy’s may close at 11, giving you an extra hour to shop.
Hack #8: Get priority parking
Photo by pryzmat
More stores are letting online shoppers choose the free in-store pickup option. Often, they’ll reserve a few parking spaces right by store doors for pickup customers. If you choose in-store pickup, be sure to take advantage of this prime parking.
Hack #9: Park at the top
Sometimes it feels like we spend more time searching for parking than in the actual mall itself. Instead of trying to get a spot in the front, head to the top level of the parking structure. Not only are you more likely to get an immediate spot, but you can avoid the horn-honking, stop-and-go that’s characteristic of the ground level.
Hack #10: Charge up
For many of us, our cellphones have become a crucial shopping companion. We use price comparison apps to see if we can find a better deal elsewhere and mobile coupons to save at the register. If your phone dies while shopping, you’ll want to have a backup plan. Find out if there’s a coffee shop with a charging station, or head to an electronics store where they sell chargers and see if you can mooch a charge off of the display.
Get notified of the latest hot deals and coupons on your phone with the Coupons.com mobile app!
Hack #11: Make a reservation
We often don’t think to make a lunch reservation to coincide with our shopping, but during the holidays it can be crucial. If you plan to eat anywhere other than the food court, make a reservation. This will also give you a chance to sit down, get waited on, and recharge your batteries so you can make the most of your shopping time.
Hack #12: Get free entertainment while you shop
Photo by 1000 Words
Many malls host local schools and community groups offering free performances this month. Plan your shopping trip around the mall’s special event calendar to take in a free dance show or choir performance.
A special performance can also be a way to recharge your little ones during a long day of shopping. Find out other ways to prevent tantrums and keep your kiddos occupied with our 5 tips to survive holiday shopping with kids!