Christmas Shopping Etiquette

Christmas Shopping Etiquette

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  I enjoy shopping, gift giving, decorating the house and all the traditions that are associated with the Christmas holiday season.  I am the person with the “jingle bell” personality who strolls merrily through the malls.  Unfortunately, not everyone shares my feelings about Christmas, particularly the time and energy spent shopping for gifts. 

Most of you have heard a horror story or two relating to shopping on Black Fridays, or you may have experienced others’ rudeness and lack of decorum while Christmas shopping.  What causes people to have unpleasant shopping experiences?  As an etiquette resource, I will provide some basic advice which can enhance your shopping experience in a positive way. 

Plan ahead and mimic Santa by making a list and checking it twice.  Before you venture to the mall or stores, write out your Christmas list.  Determine ahead of time how much you will spend on each person and contemplate in advance what you will purchase.  If possible, ask the recipients for gift suggestions. 

To avoid crowds, try to shop during off-peak hours.  Retailers extend store hours to accommodate their customers.  Take advantage of being able to shop early mornings and late nights.  Don’t just shop on the weekends and evenings after work.  You will be surprised how manageable the lines are Mondays through Thursdays between 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 

Use common courtesies while shopping. “Thank-you,” “please,” and especially “excuse-me.” Whenever possible, offer a holiday greeting to the store personnel and your fellow shoppers.

Be patient and understanding when dealing with the sales clerks. Many are seasonal employees and may not be very knowledgeable about the store.  Keep in mind that there are thousands of items in a store. 

Be patient when standing in long lines.  In fact, expect long lines when shopping during peak hours.  Be ready when it is your turn to check out and if you are using coupons, be prepared to present them along with your payment.

Respect the personal space of others around you.  Be mindful that others may not want to hear you conduct business and personal affairs.  Avoid talking on your cellular phone especially in store lines.  Forcing others to listen to your affairs is highly disrespectful.  If you are initiating or receiving calls while in the midst of others, move to a private area.

If you happen to run across an acquaintance and engage in a conversation, use your quiet voice, keep it brief and do not block the aisles.

Etiquette should be exercised in the parking lots as well as in the stores.  When returning to your vehicle, do not linger around or in your car if you see that someone is waiting for your space.  On the other hand, be patient if you are waiting for a spot; don’t honk or steal parking spaces. 

I have provided several suggestions to help you and others have an enjoyable and “manner-able” shopping experience.  Still, some of you may prefer to avoid the stores at all cost.  In those cases, shop online via the internet.  To ensure your purchases arrive in a timely fashion, allow ample shipping time to avoid possible delays and additional costs.

Be merry and shop, shop, shop…but do not lose sight of the true meaning of the holiday.  A very Merry Christmas to all!  

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Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.