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How to Beat the Traffic on Black Friday

November 23, 2010

With Thanksgiving every year comes Black Friday.  And with Black Friday comes the inevitable – and cringe-inducing – nightmare of traffic, crowds and overall congestion. Short of staying home that day (and really, who wants to do that?), what can shoppers do to avoid some of the Black Friday madness and still get all their stops checked off the list? 

We here at FedEx knew there was no one better to turn to with that question than our own operational experts! Handling an average 8 million packages daily and an anticipated 16 million packages on its expected busiest day in history on December 13, 2010, FedEx team members are route and planning aficionados, who make it their business to get through all their daily deliveries quickly, efficiently and as hassle-free as possible. The tactics they use to successfully navigate busy streets and commercial centers every day can also be applied to Black Friday shopping across the country.

Mickey Black, FedEx senior manager of operations engineering, shared some excellent advice to help shoppers navigate Black Friday in efficient FedEx style.

•    Map it out: Pull together a list of all your shopping stops before you get in the car, so you can plan a route that makes the most sense. Adding or changing stops as you go can be a big time waster.

•    Know your shopping area like you know your own neighborhood: Get a feel for the area’s typical traffic patterns – and congestion points for both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Know there will be hoards of people outside the mall’s department store when it opens?  Start with a boutique store instead to avoid the crush. Plan alternate route options to get where you need to go – don’t just have a Plan B, but also a Plan C.

•    Align your route to avoid the dreaded “crossover”: Go up one side of your route, hitting all the stores you need, and come back down the other. Avoid “crossing over” as much as possible, because the FedEx on-the-road teams know that left-hand turns across crowded intersections can be the ultimate traffic nightmare.

•    Think nonlinearly: It doesn’t always matter that visiting stores A, B, and C in that order looks the most logical on a map. If you can skip a crowd by hitting them up in a less linear order, do it! Moving through your route in an opposite pattern of what everyone else is doing will save time – and holiday shopping headaches – in the end.

•    Don’t get caught up in the frenzy: If you have multiple places to go, but see that one location is ultra-packed, come back at a later point in the day. Knowing when to say ‘no’ to stopping at stores that aren’t critical for your shopping list will save you lots of time and frustration in the long run.

•    Learn the store secrets: Find out your favorite shopping center’s lesser-known entrances and less-popular parking areas. If you know most shoppers prefer a certain parking lot – or tourist busses all drop-off in one area, stay away!  Also brush up on the store or mall’s opening and closing times, especially since they might be different on Black Friday and throughout the holiday season.

Happy shopping!


    Bea Jones says:

    1) Stay home.
    2) Sleep in.
    3) go online, shop in your jammies with plenty of coffee.
    4) Drink leftover eggnog and cider.

    Caution – follow these steps exactly. Drinking the leftover eggnog and cider BEFORE or WHILE shopping can lead to grievous error.

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