Holiday Shopping Tips from a Former Mall Employee

By Amy Wagner on December 9, 2013
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During winter break 2012, I worked at my local mall’s flip-flop store. From Black Friday to New Years’, I witnessed the chaotic flurry of shopping in which seemingly every resident of that part of suburbia was engaged. Holiday shopping isn’t a leisurely activity; it’s a battle. So, without further ado, here are some must-know holiday shopping tips from someone who used to be on the front lines.

Photo courtesy of blog.advertise.com

First, plan ahead. One of the main things I noticed as a mall employee was the sheer number of people that preferred to shop for everyone on their list beginning on December 23rd. Some even hurriedly rushed to complete their shopping at 5 PM on Christmas Eve. My advice is not to be one of these people. You’ve known the holidays were coming for months; some retailers put out the Christmas merchandise and start playing holiday music before Thanksgiving, for crying out loud. Simply plan ahead, and you won’t be one of the many that’s rushing to finish your holiday shopping mere hours before the family get-together.

Secondly, shop early – in the morning, that is. Most malls have extended hours around the holidays. The mall where I worked would open progressively earlier as Christmas approached, sometimes at 8 or 9 AM depending on the day. Fun fact: almost no one except elderly people in tracksuits who get their daily exercise by walking around the mall is there at these times. If you want to avoid the crowds, long lines, and stressful atmosphere of pretty much any mall in America during the holidays, be aware of your local mall’s extended hours by checking the website and shop as early as possible. Bonus: parking is also much easier to find if you arrive at the mall first thing in the morning.

Third, avoid shopping on the weekends (if you can). I understand that if you work long hours during the week, this might not be possible. However, it is something that I highly, highly recommend. There are far more people shopping on the weekends as the holidays approach, which means longer lines, bigger crowds, and less parking. About a week out from Christmas, weekdays get busier, but still not as busy as a typical weekend.

Fourth, be nice to mall employees. I can’t emphasize this enough, especially from my perspective as someone who used to be behind the counter. “You don’t understand! I’m so stressed around the holidays!” you might be saying. Well, I’ve got news for you – mall employees are probably just as stressed as you are. You must realize that almost every single mall employee you encounter throughout your holiday shopping is most likely working crazy hours for very little money, and the last thing they need is to be screamed at by an irate customer. Going along with this, rolling into a store on Christmas Eve and staying thirty minutes past closing time is just not right. This goes back to tip number one – not only will planning ahead make your life easier, it will allow employees to go home to their families at a reasonable hour. A little common courtesy goes a long way.

So there you have it – the top holiday shopping tips that will make your life that much easier. Have any other tips to share? Tell us in the comments!

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Amy is a third-year student at the University of Denver majoring in Communication Studies, with concentrations in organizational and intercultural communication, as well as minoring in business and international studies. She is a Colorado native, avid reader, coffee drinker, lover of all things active, and now, thanks to Uloop, a writer.

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