Black Friday is widely accepted as the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Events kick off on November 26, followed by Small Business Saturday the next day. Online retailers and digital deals step into the spotlight for Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday encourages consumers to donate to the causes they care about while buying for themselves and loved ones.
These four days launch the holiday season for businesses and consumers alike, but with so much happening, life can quickly become hectic. That’s why your Better Business Bureau has tips for each event in this Holiday Helper guide.
While it’s the busiest shopping day of the year, many retailers begin their Black Friday sales on Thursday evening. Long lines and frenzied crowds don’t deter shoppers hunting for popular items like apparel, toys and electronics. These tips can help you make the most out of Black Friday:
Read the fine print. Be sure to check if discounts on your purchase exclude certain deals or items. Also, watch for companies that advertise high percentages off; the item may say “75% off,” but the original price could be inflated.
Plan your approach. Many retailers now send Black Friday flyers advertising their deals ahead of time. You can see which stores have the best deals on the items you want to buy and create a shopping plan.
Do your research. Read product reviews, especially on deeply discounted items. They could be older models or cheaper brands, so be sure you’re getting the quality you want. You can also visit bbb.org to view the business profiles of the stores you plan to visit and see how others feel about the experience.
Small Business Saturday
Following Black Friday, Small Business Saturday is a day to support the businesses that contribute directly to their local communities. Here are some ways to help you “shop small”:
Get involved. Many small businesses mark the occasion by participating in events in the community. You can visit your city’s Chamber of Commerce website to see what events will be happening locally.
Invite friends and family. Taking friends or family holiday shopping on Small Business Saturday can give you the opportunity to introduce others to your favorite local spots, as well as discover new places. Get ahead on gift hunting while exploring your community.
Shop small, eat small. Shopping at small retailers isn’t the only way to participate. Visiting locally owned restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries is a great way to get involved on Small Business Saturday.
Along with Black Friday, Cyber Monday has become one of the top shopping days of the year. Consumers should always be careful when shopping online, especially if they plan to make large or several purchases. Use these tips to stay safe this Cyber Monday:
Watch for false advertising. If a company claims to be selling the season’s hottest item at a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is. You should also keep an eye out for fake websites, as scammers are only getting better at creating lookalikes of trusted retailers. Check that the business’ name is spelled correctly, and proper contact and customer service information is provided on the website.
Beware of phishing scams. Watch for unsolicited texts and emails claiming you have a free prize or alerting you to delivery issues and prompting you to click a link; that link may install malware onto your phone or computer. Phishing scams may also prompt you to share your personal information rather than following a link. Never open attachments from or give your information to an unsolicited contact.
Update antivirus software. Keeping the antivirus software up to date on your devices gives you more protection against phishing scams. This can also help keep you away from non-secure websites and pop-ups.
After three days dedicated to shopping for loved ones and finding the perfect gifts, Giving Tuesday encourages consumers to give back to the causes close to their hearts. Charities in the United States receive one third of their annual donations during the holiday season. BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance offers these tips for consumers looking to donate on Giving Tuesday:
Look for name similarities. Charities supporting the same cause often have similar names. Copycat names are also a common trick of scammers looking to steal money from those trying to donate. Be sure the name of the organization you’re donating to is exactly correct to avoid mistaken identities or even fraud.
Avoid immediate decisions for unfamiliar charities. The holidays are a popular time for donation requests occurring in public locations. Don’t be pressured into giving to an unfamiliar organization, go home and do your research. A legitimate charity will be just as happy to take a donation the next day.
Use standards-based evaluations. The best way for a charity to prove it is trustworthy is agreeing to in-depth evaluations. BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance has 20 standards for charity accountability, and you can visit Give.org for free access to charity reports.
For more on navigating the holiday season, visit bbb.org/holiday-tips.
ABOUT BBB SERVING CENTRAL INDIANA: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2018, people turned to BBB more than 173 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.4 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB serving Central Indiana, which was founded in 1916 and serves 46 counties.