Step away from that laptop. Close that virtual shopping cart.
Sure, online shopping is convenient, but in-person shopping — especially with friends or family — deserves its due. You’ll make progress toward that 10,000 steps-a-day goal, bond with others and even get a happiness boost, all while checking items off your to-do list.
So, gather up those unused gift cards and pull out some comfortable shoes. Here’s how to plan an ideal shopping day.
1. Think ahead
“Don’t just get in the car and go to the mall,” says Candace Corlett, president of the consultancy WSL Strategic Retail. “Plan your day, not unlike how you would plan a holiday.”
A smart first step: Scroll through shopping center websites. They are often packed with helpful information, such as a map of stores and details on parking, says consumer shopping and finance columnist Trae Bodge.
2. Explore new terrain
Be adventurous — explore beyond your go-to shopping haunts, says Corlett. Ask friends and family for advice and check out local newspapers for destination ideas. “It could be more interesting to drive to a great Main Street that has shops and restaurants than to go to the mall,” Corlett says.
3. Break out those unused gift cards
Take inventory of your gift cards and slide them in front of credit cards in your wallet as a reminder to use them, advises Andrea Woroch, a writer and commentator who specializes in saving money. Not a fan of the store the card is for? Swap cards with your companions or sell and/or exchange gift cards on online sites like Cardpool or CardCash. Also, some Target stores will take gift cards from select other retailers and in exchange give you a Target GiftCard.
4. Incorporate nonshopping activities
Plan to get what you need, but also round out the day with activities like a nice lunch, advises Jean Chatzky, an AARP financial ambassador and host of the financial-focused HerMoney podcast.
“Happiness research shows us that doing things is more satisfying than buying things,” she says.
Choose your day wisely. Some shopping centers host concerts, art exhibitions and fashion shows, while some individual retailers have in-store events such as yoga sessions and cooking classes.