The average American plans to spend $998 this winter holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation. This means it will be a busy time for both online and brick and mortar retailers.
However, all that hustle and bustle can create opportunities for real-life grinches. This time of year, thieves, pickpockets and porch pirates are on the prowl to pilfer your packages. But you can outsmart them! Here’s how to stay aware – and keep your holiday haul safe.
‘Tis the Season for (Safe) Holiday Shopping
Though many of us plan to turn to online shopping this year, you might still decide to make a quick trip to the mall or your favorite local shops. Keep these quick safety tips in mind when you’re out and about.
- Travel light. Leave your purse at home if you can, and bring only keys, phone and cash or credit card (and keep those in a front pocket to protect from pickpockets in crowds).
- Be a picky parker. Shopping during daylight hours is probably safer, especially when you’re passing through the parking lot with bags full of gifts. But night shopping, especially with the season's shorter daylight hours and hectic work schedules, is a necessity for many. Park your car in a well-lit area as close to the entrance as possible. If your car is broken into, here's what you should do next.
- Stay aware and walk with a purpose. No matter how stressed or rushed you may feel, take a breath and pay attention to your surroundings. Before heading out to your car, have your keys ready. Then, you won’t need to set your purse or packages down to fumble around for them. If you feel unsafe walking alone in the parking facilities, request a security guard to escort you.
- Drive with caution. Whether entering or exiting crowded parking lots or ramps, cars can pull out suddenly and people can appear from seemingly nowhere. Slow down and minimize distractions in the car to give your driving your full attention. This is one way you can avoid a fender bender in a parking lot.
- Keep gifts out of sight. It’s best to head straight home after your shopping trip, but that’s not always practical. If you have more errands on your list, be conscious of where you store your gifts in your vehicle. If possible, clear room in your trunk and don’t leave gifts or bags with valuables on your front seat.
Ship Your Holiday Packages with Care
When mailing gifts, it’s easy to ship your parcels and walk away. However, a lot can happen after a package leaves your hands. Here are some tips to keep in mind before shipping your holiday gifts and packages:
- Schedule accordingly. Remember, this is the season for package deliveries — and package thefts. Before you send, consider your recipient’s lifestyle and schedule. You certainly don’t want your gifts sitting outside unguarded for hours or days. Before you fill out the packing slip, give the recipient a heads up about their special delivery and get the OK to send it to their place.
- Pack carefully. Bubble wrap is always the trusted go-to in keeping just about everything in one piece. To keep smaller gifts from getting overlooked in the box, tape all the gifts together. Before you seal the shipping box with packing tape, close the lid and give the box a shake. If things are moving around too much, add more crunched-up newspaper or packing pellets.
- Have a backup plan. Things can happen in transit. Just to be safe, put an extra mailing label inside the box. If the outer label gets wet, torn or otherwise illegible, this gives postal workers or shipping services a backup so they can get your box to the right place.
- Get insured. Look into what your carrier offers for insurance protection. Just remember that many parcels are already covered, as long as they’re valued under a certain dollar amount. Check with your carrier and consider purchasing additional shipping coverage if needed. Read the fine print, take photographs of the items and hang on to the receipts until the package is safely delivered.
Looking After You… And Your Home, Too
What better gift to give yourself than a homeowners insurance policy from Erie Insurance? Talk to a local agent near you for a free quote, or schedule a policy review to make sure your coverage is up to date.