Having witnessed last year's holiday shopping mayhem first hand, as a sales associate at Forever 21, the second busiest store in the busiest mall in Toronto (the Eaton Centre), I can safely say that I will be better prepared for this holiday shopping season.
With the recent passing of black friday, the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season, and infamous for hectic shopping conditions, (see below video) I thought I would recommend five things to remember in order to help you survive this year's holiday shopping madness!
1) Start your shopping as early as possible!
The closer to Christmas, the busier the stores get. Even the morning of Christmas Eve when one would assume most people would be at home getting ready to host relatives for dinner, I witnessed countless last minute shoppers scrambling for seasonal fashion finds.
2) Pay attention to holiday return policies!
I couldn't count the amount of times I stated our store's special holiday return policy while working cash, only to have the customer absentmindedly nod. It is these customers that have to deal with the ordeal of missing refund deadlines and not qualifying for refunds or exchanges. Make sure you're not one of those people, by listening, or asking about a store's holiday policies.
3) If you see something, grab it. It won't be there tomorrow!
Things often sell out within a day during holiday shopping time. Many times I had customers ask me where they can find a shirt that they saw the day before, only for me to tell them we sold out. If you are contemplating making a purchase, the safe bet is to buy it. You can always return or exchange it later.
4) Have an idea of what you are looking for before you go!
A lot of time can be wasted by wandering through stores and battling mobs of holiday shoppers, all while hoping a deal catches your attention. It can be much more efficient to set a game plan (maybe write a list) before you set out to complete your shopping.
5) Dont ask store employees if they think something will make a good gift!
"No I don't know if your niece would like that skirt ma'am, because I have no idea who your niece is and therefore no idea what she likes" is what I would have liked to have said many times during last year's holiday shopping fiesta. Only you know who you are buying for, so go with your instinct. I would not recommend asking the advice of a 19 year old trying to make commission.
I hope these tips help ease your shopping stress. Do you have any additional tips that could help others survive the holiday shopping rush?