Shop Smart This Holiday Season
Written by Adam Price, Regional Director for the Better Business Bureau serving The Heart of Texas. He can be reached at email@example.com.
It’s amazing how large retailers start gearing up for Christmas as early as September. Regardless, the Thanksgiving weekend is still the traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season. For businesses who are behind on the budget, the holidays can be a big win. For consumers to win, there are several things to keep in mind.
- Do your research. Find businesses you can trust on bbb.org. Read past customers’ experiences and see how the business responds to complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses carry the BBB seal and have pledged to uphold BBB’s Standards for Trust, as well as handle complaints promptly. And don’t forget to ask for recommendations from friends and family.
- Read advertisements carefully. Black Friday is known for “door busting” sales, but sometimes quantities are limited or there are other restrictions. Before you wait in line for hours or brave the boisterous crowds, be sure you know what’s really being offered.
- Shop around. Not all of the best sales or the best prices are in the big box stores. Thousands of small and independent businesses are participating in Small Business Saturday on November 25. Look for the “Shop Small” signs at local businesses for Small Business Saturday specials or visit shopsmall.com for a list of participating retailers.
- Be safe online. The National Retail Federation expects online sales to top $107 billion this holiday season. Shop safe online; look for a small lock icon and an extra s in the URL (https - the extra “s” is for secure). Watch out for look-alike websites that mimic famous brands but that may be a scam. Use a credit card for online shopping, as it has more fraud protections than a debit card. Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date and avoid clicking on links in unsolicited email and social media messages.
- Be wary. Cyber Monday is one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, but beware of scams. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for holiday-related cons that require you to link to a website and share personal information. Scammers take advantage of bargain hunters, seasonal job seekers, and parents looking for the hot new toy or latest gadget. A popular holiday scam comes in an email claiming to be from a package delivery service. If you see a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker so we can warn others.
- Give wisely. Charitable giving is always high at the holidays when donors are feeling generous. Giving Tuesday on November 28 is all about being generous after the shopping frenzy. Make sure the charity you select will be a good steward of your money. Check out give.org for charity reviews from BBB Wise Giving Alliance.