Q: I am worried about shopping in crowded stores this year. How can I safely do my holiday shopping?
A: With COVID-19 numbers rising and cold and flu season here, staying safe is the most important thing. There are several ways to continue your holiday shopping in a safe and healthy way.
You can feel a little more comfortable shopping in stores knowing that the number of shoppers must be limited to only 25% of the amount the store normally accommodates. This is based on Los Angeles and Ventura Counties being in the purple tier due to the COVID-9 numbers. Ideally this means there will be plenty of space to socially distance while shopping, and all shoppers and staff must wear masks.
However, going into the public always means there will be things you cannot control. To be safe and avoid shopping in person there are still plenty of options.
One option is to order online and do curbside pickup at the store. You shop online and select a contactless pickup option. This saves you on delivery costs.
Most stores that offer contactless pickup have designated parking spots where you pull up, then call the store to alert them that you are there. A staff member will bring your items and place them in your trunk or hand them through your window. You never have to get out of the car.
This year it is more important than ever to support local businesses and help keep your favorite shops and restaurants in business as they have been struggling because of the pandemic. Consider giving gift cards to small boutiques, local pet shops, nail salons, massages or other personal services, local bakeries, and restaurants. Most of the local businesses will accept orders over the phone and even make accommodations for curbside pickup if you ask.
Shopping online is another option and can be safe and easy if you are thoughtful about your transactions. Go to trusted websites and be mindful not to click alluring links that pop up on your screen. Always go to the company’s direct website rather than clicking a link in an advertisement.
Pay with a credit card rather than a debit card for extra security. Then be sure to monitor your credit card statements to check that your charges are accurate. There are third party payors you can use instead rather than providing your credit card information directly with each vendor, such as Google Pay or PayPal.
Make sure your internet connection is secure and use your home network when possible. Often the website will ask if you want them to save your credit card information for future purchases, but this is not recommended.
Holiday shopping should be fun, and is a sweet and generous way to show your loved ones you care. If it becomes stressful then consider changing your plans this year. Send kind letters and share memories with family members instead of gifts. Or purchase gift cards rather than shopping for specific items. You may want to share your talents, such as baking or knitting, rather than buying a gift.
The key to holiday gifting is to show your loved ones you care and are thinking of them. This is the year when we all need to be easier on ourselves and consider new ways of doing things. Give yourself permission to change your normal shopping routines in a way that will make it feel safer and less stressful.
Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.