How to survive a Miami mall

miami shopping

Miami is a huge shopping destination, particularly for people who visit from South America. It is not uncommon for visitors to go to the mall with empty luggage to buy things they can take home. Locals also love a good day at the mall. And while both of these things are a boon for the local economy, they are a huge pain in the ass.

Mall blackout dates

Whether you’re visiting or you live in Miami, there are certain times of the year when you should avoid going to the mall at all costs. For example, any time between October and January, but especially during peak days like around Christmas or after Christmas when people have gift cards to use and gifts to return.

The summer is also a bad time to shop because when school is out, there are more kids and teenagers at the mall. Miami doesn’t offer a whole lot of options of things to do, so when you’re young and bored, you go to the mall to flirt with the cute cashier at Auntie Annie’s and watch a movie.

Late summer is even worse because it’s back-to-school season. And that lasts at least two months. For whatever reason, people here will cut you for a 10 cent pencil case.

Best days of the week and times of the day

Now that you’ve narrowed down the best time of year to go (sometime between March and April), you should maximize your time by going on unpopular days and odd times of day. You can pretty much eliminate the weekend and all adjacent days, because people love to take an early Friday or to skip Monday altogether so they can “run errands” at Victoria’s Secret.

You want to go sometime between Tuesday and Thursday and preferably before lunch. Miami people don’t wake up early for anything, except brunch. And that’s Saturdays and Sundays. So get to the mall when it opens, run like hell to get everything you need and leave by 11:30 am when the lunch rush starts.

Picking the right mall

Miami locals love new things. They enjoy them and rave about them and go every week until it becomes old news and they move on to the next thing. That means that Dadeland, with its giant new wing and added restaurants is impossible to visit. Dolphin Mall, which has never stopped adding new sections and stores (including IKEA), should also be off limits.

So go to the places that no one cares about. Let’s be honest, H&M is the same everywhere. Nothing about Dolphin Mall is more interesting than International Mall, which is right across the street. The only difference is that International Mall is outdated and people don’t go there as much. This means it’s an infinitely more comfortable shopping experience.

People also don’t like to go too out of the way for their shopping, so the majority of locals stay around the malls in South Miami. So drive yourself to Aventura Mall. It’s huge, it has everything, and it’s half as busy as malls closer to city center.

Mentally preparing for Miami shopping

Alright, so you’re ignoring all of this, like I did two days ago, and you’re taking your happy ass to Dadeland on a Thursday afternoon. Because that new restaurant is supposed to be really good (it’s not) and you can even buy a Tesla there!

First, take a Xanax. If you don’t have a prescription or you’re just in Miami visiting, ask the front desk at your hotel. I guarantee they know someone who knows someone who can get you a quick prescription.

Got it? Good. You’re going to need it.

Pay attention to the fucking signs around you

1. TRAFFIC ENTERING THE MALL DOES NOT STOP.
This goes for every mall ever. When you are driving in, you don’t have to wait for the morons that are inching up into your lane. You can just drive in. When you’re leaving, that means YOU have to stop.

2. This is how four-way stop signs work: first one to stop is the first one to go. But if you’re going in the opposite direction as someone whose turn it is, you can also go while they’re crossing the intersection. If you’re doing something weird like making a left, then wait your fucking turn.

Treat the mall like a street

You and 15,000 other people are hitting up the semi-annual sale at Bath & Body Works. So minimize the chaos by maintaining some semblance of order. Walk like you drive (or better than you drive, cause you drive like shit). You should be walking on your right hand side so people walking in the other direction can use the left hand side.

When using an escalator, stand to the right and walk to the left. Not everyone has the luxury of spending 7 hours at a mall. Some of us have places to be. So leave the left side of the escalator open for people who may need to walk up or down in a rush.

By the by, that’s what the leftmost lane of highways are for: passing slower cars. *The more you know.*

Be conscious of the space you take up

The more bags, carts, children you have, the more this applies to you. I know you’re busy and doing all your shopping for the year and your child needs a stroller, but ask yourself: Am I creating a fire hazard in this store?

When you stop to look at things, be conscious of your surroundings. Be conscientious of the fact that the 6 people behind you may not be interested in the same hideous picture frames. They need to be able pass you and your stroller somehow.

An alternative

Those are all the things you can do to make someone else’s day at the mall intolerable. Now imagine that 70% of the people shopping at any given time are doing every single one of them. Do you really want to subject yourself to that on a beautiful day?

No. You don’t.

So here’s an idea: online shopping. You don’t have to leave the comfort of your home or hotel. It has everything you might need and more. And you don’t have to put up with any of that aggravation.

If a big part of your reason to travel to Miami is shopping, then be crafty. Sign up for a month trial of Amazon Prime and give them the address of your hotel and Airbnb. Everything is cheaper online anyway. And almost everything that’s on sale at the mall is ugly or seven sizes too big.