wikiHow to Go Shopping at the Mall

Three Parts:Defining Your Shopping StyleSpending Money at the MallEnjoying Other Events at the Mall

The Mall. Once a testament to suburban prosperity, many malls have been slowly ravaged by the promise of better deals and free shipping from online retailers.[1] But you're going to go because sometimes you just need an Orange Julius while you try on jeans. So how do we tackle this? With a clear plan and some financial fortitude, you can make the most out of your next trip to the mall.

Part 1
Defining Your Shopping Style

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    Identify your shopping style. What kind of shopper are you? Are you someone who dashes in, gets the one thing they need, and then sprints back to the parking lot? Or are you someone who likes to take their time meandering from one end of the mall to the other, window shopping and people watching, with no particular goal in mind? Both kinds of shoppers can thrive at the mall, but it's best to define a game plan before you go.[2]
    • Similarly, it's worth it to decide if you are a social shopper, or a lone warrior. While shopping with friends can be fun, you might not be able to go to the exact store at the exact moment you want to. Will that frustrate you? If so, it's best to go on your own.[3]
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    Consider your motivations for shopping. Are you shopping for a particular item that you need or is it a luxury that you want? Are you getting a gift for a friend, or are you simply looking for a small trinket to lift your mood? While a little bit of retail therapy is fine, make sure that your shopping habits are practiced in moderation.
    • Set a clear budget before you shop. Do not try on items or touch items that are over that budget. If you see an item that is clearly over your budget, do not linger by it.[4]
    • Keep your impulses in check. Maybe you need a new pair of shoes. But if you emerge from the store with seven new pairs, this might be an indication that you have a shopping addiction.[5]
    • If you go on weekly shopping sprees, find yourself in massive debt from your shopping, or often try to hide your purchases from your loved ones, then this might be a sign that you have a shopping addiction. Seek help from a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction.[6]
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    Research products before you go to the mall. If you need a specific item (like a frying pan), but it could be found in multiple stores in the mall, then research which stores carry it (like a department store such as Macy's or a specialty store like Williams-Sonoma.). You don't want to get to the mall and then find there are no stores that carry the item you need.
    • You can generally find a directory of stores on the web site for the mall.
    • Don't assume that just because a store was in the mall five years ago that it will still be there today. Many indoor malls, especially, have lost revenue over the past ten years and have had trouble retaining small stores (and sometimes even the larger department stores which anchor them).[7]

Part 2
Spending Money at the Mall

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    Dress comfortably. It's natural to want to look cute at the mall -- after all, how many awkward first dates have occurred in Cheesecake Factories across the country? -- but make sure you are comfortable. Malls are large spaces that require a lot of walking, so this might not be the best time for very tall heels.
    • If you are shopping for clothes, be sure to wear pieces that are easy to change out of and back into. Wear pants or shorts (as opposed to leggings and skirts) and a simple top layer, like a sweater or T-shirt you can easily pull over your head. Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off (so no tall boots with lots of laces).
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    Go to the mall during off-hours. The busiest times at the mall are on the weekends, particularly in the afternoon. If you prefer to shop at a less hectic time, try to go early in the morning or in the evenings on weekdays.[8]
    • Keep in mind that on some days -- like the weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas (especially Black Friday) -- malls will often be very hectic. If you are planning to shop during this time period, check the store's website to see if the item you want is available in the physical store. If it's not available at that particular store, this will save you time and disappointment.
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    Shop for clothes on Thursday evenings. Most major clothing retailers (in malls and elsewhere) rearrange their racks on Thursday evenings to prepare for the weekend crowds. If you go on Thursday, you will be able to see the newest full-price merchandise, as well as the latest additions to the sales racks.[9]
    • You should also look for clothes 6-8 weeks into a season. For instance, many stores will put out fall clothes in August or September. If you can wait until October-November to stock up on some new sweaters, then you are more likely to get a good deal.[10]
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    Look for deals in the back of the store. In most stores, the very nice, full-priced items are right up front, just waiting to lure you into pulling out your wallet. But if you really want the best deals, then head to the back of the store, because this where the discounted and clearance items usually live.[11]
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    Compare prices at different stores. Before you put down some money for a must have item, step back and compare prices at a different store for the same item. Look for the lowest price for the item by walking to another store or several other stores in the mall.
    • You may also want to compare prices for an item online before you go to the mall so you have a good sense of what you should be paying for the item. You may also come across a special deal advertised online that you can take advantage of in stores.
    • Apps like RedLaser and ShopSavvy will help you to comparison price on-line, especially if an item at one department store is being sold for a better price at another retailer.[12]
    • If the on-line version of the brick and mortar store is offering a sale, check the price of their shipping fees. Sometimes the price of the shipping might not really make the item much more affordable on-line than if you buy it now in the store.
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    Try on clothing before you buy it. Rather than make a spontaneous purchase and buy a clothing item without trying it on, head to the change room. Put on the item and really consider how it fits your body type and if it flatters you. Ask a friend or a sales person for a second opinion to determine if the item fits you well and is worth the price.
    • You may also want to take advantage of three way mirrors in the center of the change room and look at the item from several angles. If it appears flattering from every angle, it may be worth buying.
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    Think about an item, walk around, and come back. Make your money count at the mall by avoiding quick purchases. Instead, put an item back on the shelf or rack, go for a walk around the mall and think about whether you really want or need the item. Consider how the item will fit into your closet and if it is what you were looking for. Once you've reached a decision, you can walk back into the store and make the purchase with confidence.

Part 3
Enjoying Other Events at the Mall

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    Dine out. When most people think of the food court at the mall, the word "local" might not spring to mind. But some upscale malls have sought out local chefs and restaurateurs to attract customers in addition to offering the traditional standbys like S'barro, Pizza Hut and California Pizza Kitchen.[13].
    • If you know you will need to spend a long afternoon at the mall, it might be best to budget a break at the food court or time to get a drink at a Starbucks. If you are shopping with children, this is especially important.
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    Catch a movie. Some malls have movie theaters built into them. If you have some errands to run, you can schedule these around the showtime of the movie you wish to see.
    • Watching a movie can be a great way to relax after a busy day of shopping.
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    Enjoy events for the whole family. Some malls, like the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, are not just shopping destinations -- they also offer amusement park rides and water slides for the whole family to enjoy.[14]
    • Even if your mall doesn't have an indoor amusement park, it might have attractions like a carousel, an arcade with games, or a restaurant with a play pen for kids. Scheduling time to enjoy these can help prevent meltdowns from tired children.

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