‘Tis the season to be jolly, or so we are told. But one trip to any shopping centre between now and Christmas day will quickly debunk the jolly myth. Shoppers rush from store to store with furrowed brows and hunched up shoulders. Mothers can be heard hushing their children as the tots scream above mom’s pleas. And shop workers look like they are desperately waiting for it all to end.
It doesn’t have to be this way and it shouldn’t be. This holiday season I encourage everyone to take a breath, slow down, smile, and try and make the mall a jollier place for everyone. With this goal in mind I have compiled some suggestions for shoppers that should make their trip to the mall more productive and more pleasant.
Preparation starts before you leave for the mall. It is not a good idea to go to the mall to look for ideas; this is what the internet was invented for! 😉 Do your brainstorming at home and use the internet to research and compare products and prices. Go to the mall knowing what you want to buy, where you want to buy it, and how much you want to pay for it.
Once you get to the mall, I suggest always keeping the three Cs in mind – caution, courtesy, and calm. Start in the parking lot where cars and pedestrians cross paths constantly. Make sure to drive slowly and watch for pedestrians; obey all the signs and rules of the road; and double check behind you before backing up your vehicle. Also, avoid getting into disputes over parking stalls. If you and another shopper arrive at a stall at the same time, do the courteous thing and give it up.
When you get inside the mall be courteous and kind. Offer help to those who are struggling with finding a store, or loading a stroller onto an elevator. Hold doors for people and share a smile and “hello” with fellow shoppers. If you bump into someone, apologize. If you are chatting with friends, step aside; don’t block walkways and doorways while you socialize. And, pick up after yourself in the food court.
Special advice for parents; don’t bring your kids to the mall if they are sick or tired. You are being unfair to your child, to yourself, and to everyone else in the mall when you do this. Most kids have little patience as it is, but dragging them around a crowded shopping centre when they are not in the mood practically guarantees an unpleasant public meltdown.
If possible avoid shopping with your kids all together, you will find you get much more accomplished in less time, will probably spend less money, and definitely will be less stressed at the end of the outing. But, if you have to shop with your kids, please make sure they are behaving appropriately. It is not safe for small children to run around mall corridors and inside stores. There are always strollers, wheelchairs, courtesy shuttles, and courier pallets traveling through the mall that can easily run children over. Also, teach children the “look, do not touch” rule; small hands can do big damage. And, don’t let your children eat in stores. They are clumsy by nature and no one likes to step in a mysterious sticky mess when they are shopping – keep the food in the food court and restaurants.
My final guideline is to be kind to the shop workers. Most of them only earn minimum wage and they work hard for their money. It is not their fault if the line up to pay is long, or if a product is out of stock. They have no power to make decisions or make exceptions. If they ask for personal information like email addresses or postal codes, it is because their employer tells them they have to. They must follow corporate policies, no matter how much a customer might scream and carry on. If you have a complaint your best course of action is to ask the worker how to contact the corporate customer service department and direct your complaints there.
Most of all remember that not only is it the season to be jolly, it is also the season of giving. This year let’s all focus more on giving kindness, rather than things.