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Christmas shopping driving tips

Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, but that joy is not found in the car parks of shopping malls up and down the country in the couple of weeks before Christmas. It’s a bit of a lottery with people circulating to try to get the best spot (tip: often it’s best to head to the car park’s extremities because it’s quicker to walk from there than wait for a closer spot).

If you failed to be organised and either use online shopping or have it all done by mid-November, what can you do to make the whole experience less unpleasant?

  • Park your car in a well-lit, open area, ideally with camera surveillance
  • Pay for parking – yes, you can get free parking in many malls, but everyone is going for this. Paying a couple of dollars can mean you get parked straight away, no queues, perhaps on the street outside.
  • Keep all valuables, including presents out of sight – if the boot is full, try to store items out of sight elsewhere in the car so that they don’t get pilfered.
  • Steering locks serve as an effective deterrent; if you have one, be sure to secure it whenever you leave your vehicle.
  • Go early. People are inherently lazy, so being there first gives you more choice.
  • Check you have locked the car before you walk away.
  • Check with the shopping mall whether there are any events scheduled that might make it even busier (e.g. flash sales, Santa arriving, etc).
  • Download the parking app for the mall, e.g. Westfield has a parking app for Newmarket, Auckland, which gives you a couple of hours’ free parking. Top tip: make sure your car is registered properly and that when you arrive there, it has logged you as being in the car park.

Thieves know what people are doing in the mall at Christmas, so don’t make it easy for them.

The other thing you can consider is where you park. Car parks are likely to be absolutely packed with drivers jostling for position. Shoppers will be coming back to their cars laden with goods. Overall, there’s a higher likelihood of your car becoming scratched as people struggle between rows, trying to manage children and shopping trolleys. We have 33 tips for reducing damage to your vehicle in the low-speed manoeuvring course.

Finally, you may just need to take a deep breath and relax. Perhaps promise yourself a little treat for making it through the experience successfully!

It’s all common sense, right. Of course, you could do it online and avoid the Christmas music and crowds.

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Darren has written over 3000 articles about driving and vehicles, plus almost 500 vehicle reviews and numerous driving courses. Connect with him on LinkedIn by clicking the name above

Posted in Advice