The task of securing yuletide gifts can be daunting, especially when you realize that Edmonton’s Christmas shopping hub, West Edmonton Mall, is bound to be visited by every person who has come to the same realization.The lineups, the chaos and the madness may seem too much to handle. But, like any cub scout will tell you, the key to surviving any excursion is to always be prepared – even if that excursion is to the mall.
Do Your Research
Personal stylist and professional shopper Marie Zydek says research is key to saving your money and maximizing your time. “Before you go to the mall, especially around Christmas, look online for deals. You should never have to pay full price for anything,” Zydek says. She adds that the sales online should be reflected at your favourite shops – so knowing what they are ahead of time ensures you can get in to the store, find the deal, and get out in no time.
Tip: The best time to find the best deals is the week of Black Friday (The third Thursday of November). “That’s when I do my shopping. In my experience, every store in the mall will have a Black Friday sale or Black Friday Week sale, with sales that could be 40 per cent or 50 per cent off of everything in the store.”
Plan your day
That’s right. “Day.” With more than 800 stores and services, it would take three 24-hour days to visit each one once. To complete your holiday shopping, just trekking through each store is likely to take the entire shopping day – especially when the holiday season can attract nearly 160,000 customers.
Pick your time
If you have to shop during the Christmas season, Mondays or Tuesdays in the a.m. and late evening are always the least busy. But, “if you need to shop on the weekend,” says Zydek, “it’s best to get there just as the doors open. It’s always slowest then.”
Plan Your Route
Now all you have to do is plan your attack. You wouldn’t hike the mountains without a map to guide you, so why would that be any different at North America’s largest mall? Zydek recommends visiting the mall’s website and printing maps of both levels. “I take a yellow highlighter and highlight each store that I need to go to, and plan my route from where I’ll park so that I don’t wander aimlessly.”
Go it alone
“To stay focused, I always recommend shopping by yourself to buy gifts. I find that shopping with someone else tends to take more time. You lose focus. You take detours. Cut that out by shopping alone. Stay focused on that plan.
The parking problem
With more than 20,000 spaces, and over 10,000 overflow spaces, West Edmonton Mall is home to the world’s largest parking lot, though it’s sometimes hard to tell near the holidays. The best rule of thumb here is to check with WEM’s Twitter account @Official_WEM, which frequently updates where the best parking is on any given day.
Zydek says it’s always best to bring a backpack. It’s good for storage, and have your hands free.
Holiday Shopping Backpack Checklist:
Water bottle: “You need to stay hydrated”
Energy-charging snack. “Make sure you allow yourself time to eat. If you don’t pack a snack, bring money for the food court.”
Room for plenty of gifts
This article appears in the November 2016 issue of Avenue Edmonton. Subscribe here.