Get ready: Black Friday is coming. Last year Americans spent more than $57 billion on Black Friday deals — this year should meet or exceed that total. While predictions peg online shopping for a 28 percent increase, most deal-finding still happens at local retail outlets. The problem? Criminals are primed and ready to nab your hard-fought purchases.
Here are four tips for a crime-free shopping spree:
1) Shop Smart
According to the American Crime Prevention Institute, crimes such as assault and theft spike on Black Friday. When stores open early and carry only a limited amount of stock, there’s a real risk of tired, irritable shoppers trampling one another or getting into fistfights over discounted products. What’s more, the sheer volume of people in stores and parking lots give pickpockets ample choice for theft.
Protecting yourself starts with timing. If possible, don’t shop before dawn or after dark, and always go with a group. This way, you won’t be singled out in a crowd. When it comes to preventing theft, carry only what you need and always have a cell phone on hand in case of an emergency. In many respects, mob mentality rules during early morning and late night shopping sprees, meaning you can’t depend on the kindness of strangers.
2) Protect Your Purchases
Car theft is one of the easiest ways for criminals to get their hands on your Black Friday loot. To lower the chance of this happening, cover your purchases with a blanket, stow them under the seats, or lock them in the trunk. Criminals want the easiest, most lucrative target available — make it hard and they’ll move on. It’s also a good idea to consider some kind of insurance. Many credit cards offer insurance on purchases, including those stored in or stolen from your car.
3) Consider “Showrooming”
Many shoppers like the experience of Black Friday shopping — the crowds, the deals, and all the excitement. However, once you’re loaded down with bags and on your way back to the car, you’re at risk. Consider going out but not buying anything; instead, compare online deals to those you find the store and then order your items later. You’ll often get the same (or better) deals plus the security of having packages delivered right to your door.
4) Pay Attention
Businesses can also benefit from Black Friday prevention tips, since the crush of people in-store often leads to high rates of shoplifting. Lock up high-value merchandise or opt for empty boxes that are filled when consumers leave the store, and invest in “bag checkers” at every exit to verify that items being taken out match what’s on the receipt. It’s also worth making sure that your business security system is up to snuff and records in real time with high-quality video. Obvious cameras and well-placed sign can convince would-be shoplifters to try their luck elsewhere.
Black Friday offers great deals, but comes with real risk. Take the right steps to protect yourself, your purchases, and your business.
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