4 Reasons to Avoid Big-Box Stores While Shopping for the Holidays

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  • Big-box stores tend to offer a wide range of products at competitive prices.
  • They don't always offer the best service or value for your money.

It pays to do more of your shopping at small businesses instead.

Whether you feel prepared to tackle the holidays or not, the reality is that they'll soon be upon us. If you haven't started making your shopping lists, now's the time to get moving.

We're only a few days away from major shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And you may want to take advantage of the many deals that are apt to hit the weekend after Thanksgiving. But if you plan to start your holiday shopping shortly after digesting your Thanksgiving turkey, you may want to focus on Small Business Saturday -- or small businesses in general -- even if most consumers plan to go a different route.

In a recent survey by Bank of America, 68% of respondents say they plan to do their holiday shopping this year online at big-box retailers. And 64% plan to shop at big-box retailers in person for holiday purchases. By contrast, only 47% of respondents say they intend to shop in person at small businesses for the holidays, while 31% say they'll shop with small businesses online.

Now at first, doing your holiday shopping at big-box stores might seem appealing. These retailers are known for their wide range of products and competitive prices. But here are a few reasons to avoid big-box retailers for your holiday purchases -- and stick to small businesses instead.

1. You might struggle to find unique gifts

Ever notice how competing big-box retailers tend to carry the same items? That can be both a good and bad thing. But if your goal is to shower your friends and family members with unique gifts for the holidays, you may need to look outside of your local big-box store. And if you shop at a small business, you might find items that are truly one of a kind.

2. The items you buy may not be the highest in quality

Shopping at big-box stores for the holidays might result in a lower credit card tab compared to what you'll spend shopping at local small businesses. But will you end up with higher-quality items? That's questionable.

When it comes to retail purchases, you often get what you pay for. And if you give your family members $20 sweaters from your local big-box store, you may end up with some unhappy recipients when those garments start to pill or unravel weeks later.

3. You can't necessarily count on good customer service

Big-box stores aren't always invested in superior customer service. After all, they don't have to be. If you were to make the decision to boycott your local big-box store for life, it wouldn't impact that store's bottom line one bit.

Small businesses, on the other hand, need every customer they can get. And they tend to work harder to earn customers' loyalty and trust.

4. You're invested in seeing local businesses in your area thrive

Do big-box stores lend value to communities? They do, by making a host of low-cost products easily accessible. But small businesses help communities in different ways.

Not only do they add diversity in terms of retail options, but they also tend to create local jobs, support local fundraisers, and help local home values improve. And so if you're just plain invested in seeing the small businesses in your area do well and stay open, then that alone is reason enough to steer clear of big-box stores when shopping for the holidays and give your money to local businesses instead.

It's easy to see why so many consumers flock to big-box stores -- both during the holidays and in general. But sticking to small businesses may be a much better option for you this holiday season.

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