‘Tis The Season To Go Shopping

Chester Intelligencer Reporter James Walker has the top tips to beat the Christmas shopping rush.

AS CHRISTMAS draws closer, the rush to get shopping done becomes more and more hectic.

Christmas shoppers. Photo credit: Tabatha Lewis

Christmas shoppers. Photo credit: Tabatha Lewis

To make matters worse, retailers offering flash sales are becoming commonplace in the wake of the current recession, meaning stock often runs low causing even more of a rush amongst shoppers to buy the perfect gift in time for Christmas and before it sells out.

But what can you do to make sure you beat the crowds this season?

In a perfect world, we’d all have a weekday free where the high streets are usually quieter, but unfortunately that’s never the case, and weekends are most people’s only time where they can shop without time restrictions.

The first tip, and probably the most important, is to get started early. Shops generally open around 9am or 9.30am at weekends, some open as early as 8.30, whereas others won’t be open until 10.30am or even 11am, but making sure you’re on the high street for around 9 should pit you at an advantage. This is a great tactic for two reasons – one, if you’re driving you can find the perfect place close to the centre, or if you’re relying on public transport then it’s usually quieter earlier on, and will be quieter on the way out as you’ll (hopefully!) be finished by the time most people are making their journeys in, and two, you can get into the flash sales before anyone else and pick up some great bargains.

Secondly, plan in advance what you want to buy, and more importantly, where you’re going to buy it. Although this isn’t always possible, having a basic plan of action and an idea of which shops you want to visit can save a lot of time and having an idea what you’re going to buy and how much you want to spend is a great way to keep your shop to a budget and prevent impulse buying.

If you can, make trips back to your car to drop bags off, especially if you’re doing a big shop. Negotiating busy shops and streets is hard enough as it is without adding tons of bags to your worries. Failing that, make an effort to use as few bags as possible – not only will it make it easier to manoeuvre but you’ll be less likely to put something down and forget about it. Taking strong bags or a rucksack is also advisable.

Try and take breaks and stay hydrated, shopping might seem like an easy task but it’s easy to become dehydrated and tired carrying bags of shopping around a busy city centre all day. Even sitting down for just five minutes and keeping a bottle of water to hand is a good way to stay fully-charged.

Spatial awareness, although somewhat common sense, is key, and is often overlooked by a lot of shoppers. Remember that the weekend means that families will be shopping together, which means small children. It’s easy to bash a child with a heavy bag and although it probably won’t do any lasting damage, it can be quite a shock to them and be a bit embarrassing when you have to stop and apologise profusely to the parents!

If you’re a smoker, make an effort to find a quiet nook where you can stop if you feel the need for a cigarette break, speaking from experience, there’s nothing worse than trying to walk down a busy high street behind a smoker, not only do the people behind you get your second hand smoke but you could easily burn someone.

But most importantly, enjoy the season. There are always Christmas markets to explore, buskers playing Christmas songs and carollers. Take your time, even if it means another trip the following week, Christmas is about relaxing and having fun, not stressing yourself out making sure Uncle Joe has the right brand of whiskey!

For more information on shopping in Chester, click through to the Visit Chester website, and the Grosvenor Shopping Centre.

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