With Thanksgiving weekend just a few sleeps away, one can’t help but feel the air charged with a little excitement—perhaps, even a little danger.

News outlets, marketers, and retail owners are looking forward to not just the huge deluge of people to brick-and-mortar stores and online shops, but they also anticipate buyer spending to increase yet again this year.

Although it’s a challenge for small businesses and local retailers across to compete with brands like Macy’s, Target, or Walmart, Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday, has given small business owners the opportunity to be seen by and capitalize on increased sale potential, and more importantly, to be recognized for their contribution to the community.

It was noted that 80 million consumers have showed up to support their local businesses since 2010.

We have put together some more numbers and notable tidbits below to refresh ourselves with the evolving market behavior in Thanksgiving weekend through the years:

  • Sales in US retail stores alone continue to increase: $68.4 billion in 2012, $78.7 billion in 2013, and $89 billion (estimated) in 2014.
  • In 2014, British shoppers spent £800 million ($1.269 billion) on Black Friday alone. Visa Europe has predicted that shoppers will be spending £1.9 billion this year for Black Friday, making it “the biggest day for spending on this day in history”. They also predict that 11 million sales will be done online. To date, 83% of people in the UK are already aware of Black Friday.
  • The average shopper spent most in 2012 with $423. It decreased in 2013 to $407.24 and again in 2014 to $380.95.
  • Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy are the top 3 online retail stores on Black Friday.
  • More and more consumers are buying goods online than in-store. Statistics from various sources can back this up. Some even pointed out that consumers have moved from face-to-face to “face-to-monitor” transactions.
  • Total consumer spending in retail stores also seem to back up the fact about consumers going online. In 2012, $59.1 billion were spent in brick-and-mortar stores. This dipped to $57.4 billion in 2013, and then in 2014 for $50.9 billion.

Contrary to what big retailers, marketers, and the media are eyeing, some have begun to argue that the shopping craze supposedly set to explode every Thanksgiving weekend is not as big a deal as it was years ago since retailers have been promoting Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales months in advance, not to mention that more sales are expected to be announced next week.

Nevertheless, consumers are ready to line up, camp out, or—should they decide to shop conveniently online—refresh store pages every five minutes, plastic cards on hand.

Below is a list of reminders on how to avoid becoming a victim of online threats that we hope you, dear Reader, could read and share to your friends and family in light of the holiday shopping kickoff:

  • Make sure you have the necessary security software installed on computing devices, from your desktop and laptop computers to your smartphone, you will be using during your online shopping. Drive-by downloads due to malvertising is one of the biggest threat to consumers nowadays. Should you visit domains unknowingly harboring poisoned ads, at the very least you know that malicious redirections are nipped in the bud.
  • Refrain from clicking links on emails purporting to have originated from your favorite retail store. It’s true that they may be legitimate, but unless you’re actually signed up to receive notifications from them every now and then, always check such mails with scrutiny. Usually, spam campaigns lead to scams, phishing pages, or worse, malware download.
  • In a similar vein to the previous point, scrutinize links shared on social sites before clicking. Some are easy to spot while some are not, thanks to shortened URLs. You can use LongURL to expand the URLs you’re suspicious of. As of this writing, we’re already seeing a lot of spam accounts in social media churning out posts with links leading to survey scams.
  • Make sure that you only buy products in stores using the HTTPS protocol. We’ve heard stories of users passing up on buying items they liked because they found out that the online store they’re connected to didn’t make an effort to secure client information and transaction data. You may opt out of such a site, or beef up your security by installing HTTPS Everywhere. Note that this app only works if the online store supports HTTPS.
  • It’s still wiser to shop at official online shopping stores instead of just any other store.
  • Use your credit card instead of your debit card when paying to buy goods online. Most debit cards are excluded from fraud protection services by banks.

This Thanksgiving Weekend may also be the first time that consumers will be using their chip-and-pin cards to shop in bulk.

If so, please take the time to read our post entitled Very Soon, Swipes will be Out and Inserts will be In for practical security tips you may want to keep in mind, too. We also recommend the said post, to those who would be facing a point-of-sale (PoS) or EMV machine to check out their goods.

Shop safely and securely, everyone!

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Jovi Umawing