By Morgan Cormack for the City of Overland Park
The strangest year we’ve had in recent memory will be ending with a strange, different and potentially dangerous holiday season. Given that social distancing is a key to preventing the spread of COVID-19, your traditional shopping experience isn’t just uncomfortable anymore: it also can be risky.
Holiday shopping: Safe or not?
The answer isn’t “yes” or “no.” Last month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added shopping before and during the holidays to its list of higher-risk activities. So if you still want to get out and do some holiday shopping in or near Overland Park, the risk of getting or contracting COVID-19 lingers. But that doesn’t mean you can’t control or reduce the risks you’re taking.
Shop online as much as possible
Instead of going in-person, the CDC recommends holiday shopping online. You can order almost anything online without coming into contact with others. That includes unique gifts like charity donations, gift cards and experiences.
Most major retailers like Amazon, Target, and Walmart have online ordering options, and you can have them sent directly to your home. Curbside pickup is also a great option. You can pick up your items while staying in your car away from others.
Want to shop from local businesses? You can do that online, too. A great resource is KC Source Link, which supports entrepreneurship in Kansas City. You can find retailers based on zip code or by searching for what you are looking to buy.
The one thing that isn’t changing? There will be more shoppers out and about as we get closer to the winter holidays. Get your shopping done sooner to avoid major crowds. Be sure to wear a mask and keep hand sanitizer close by. But regardless of when you decide to shop, it’s clear that shopping centers and stores in Overland Park are doing their best to keep you safe.
Oak Park Mall
Oak Park Mall is easily one of the most popular spots for holiday shoppers. The mall has procedures in place like social distancing and constant disinfecting to keep you safe while you shop. Almost all stores and restaurants in Oak Park are open with guidelines, including wearing a mask.
The mall will be offering eight extra shopping hours over Black Friday weekend, and about 40 extra hours throughout the holiday season. This gives you a better opportunity to shop at more times with fewer people.
You can also order online and pick up your packages curbside. The car-side pickup program will bring your prepaid items to your car in one of two pickup zones. You can find more details on the mall’s website.
Or, try outdoors
This year, there’s a special opportunity to shop the Overland Park Farmers’ Market Holiday Market in a safe, outdoor, distanced format.
The Holiday Market, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5 will be full of all your favorite market standbys, including produce, meats, cheeses, flowers and more. But once a year only, vendors bring in even more fun items to gift to the family: tasty treats, arts and crafts, jewelry and boxed gift items.
The Holiday Market is an extension of the farmers’ market season and features the 2020 season vendors.
One last thing: Don’t be late
Order online or grab your items sooner than later. With more people shopping online or shopping in advance this year, it’s likely that things will sell out faster than before.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re getting the gifts out on time in order to avoid long lines at the post office or UPS store. Below are shipping deadlines for the largest carriers if you want your package to arrive by Christmas Day.
- UPS Ground Shipping: Wednesday, December 16
- UPS Next Day Air: Friday, December 18
- UPS 2nd Day Air: Friday, December 18
- UPS 3 Day Select: Saturday, December 19
- FedEx Ground/Home Delivery: Saturday, December 19
- FedEx Express Saver: Monday, December 21
- FedEx 2Day: Tuesday, December 22
- FedEx Overnight: Wednesday, December 23
- USPS Retail Ground: Friday, December 16
- First-Class Mail: Monday, December 21
- Priority Mail: Monday, December 21
- USPS Priority Mail Express: Tuesday, December 22