How To Save the Most Money When Shopping Small This Holiday Season

Shot of a customer paying with a credit card in a clothing store.
pixdeluxe / Getty Images

Small Business Saturday is coming up, drawing attention to the droves of mom and pop shops and other indie establishments that help make the economy go ’round. Wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday highlights the important message that most small retailers can’t afford to roll out blowout savings extravaganzas like the big-box giants do — but they’re still more than worthy of our patronage during this make or break shopping season. 

We’ve Got You Covered: GOBankingRates’ Smart Holiday Spending Guide
Prepare: Shipping, Wrapping & More Extras To Account For in Your Holiday Budget

After the fallout of the pandemic and continued supply chain issues, now is a crucial time to support small businesses — and you can do so without hurdling over your budget. Just like when shopping with mega retailers, a little consumer savviness can go a long way. 

Here’s a look at 10 ways you can shop small and save more.  

Check Out: Your Complete Guide To Getting Ahead and Saving on Holiday Shopping

Follow Your Favorite Businesses on Social Media

Make Your Money Work for You

“More businesses than ever are using social media for advertising, so make sure to follow the businesses you frequent,” said Erica Seppala, financial analyst at MerchantMaverick.com. “Through social media, you can learn about new products and services, current and upcoming sales and promotions, and even receive exclusive coupons and discounts just for being a fan.”

Sign Up for Loyalty Programs

“Many small businesses will implement points programs to reward all your purchases. If you start shopping early — and frequent — enough you can build up those points now,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “But even if you can’t afford to do that, by shopping for gifts at small businesses that have these programs you can still be earning those points right now and then you can use them to treat yourself later. Often these points will translate to things like free items or coupons and many small businesses have these programs set up so that they’re tied to your phone number or email, which means you won’t have to worry about pulling out a punch card every time you visit.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Shopping Tips: Wrapping Paper, Greeting Cards and More Holiday Items to Only Buy at Dollar Stores

Sign Up for Mailing Lists

“See if your local business has an email or snail mail mailing list,” Seppala said. “By signing up, you may get exclusive previews of upcoming sales and events, coupons, or other promotions delivered right to your mailbox.”

Buy in Bulk

“Depending on what kind of local shops you’re supporting, you may be able to buy select items in bulk,” Ramhold said. “For instance, a local tea shop may offer promotions like buy 2, get 1 free, while a coffee shop could offer discounted rates on beans that they roast themselves.”

Important: The Ultimate Holiday Etiquette Gift Guide

Take Advantage of Discounted Swag

“Even if you aren’t looking at food items locally made, you may find the shops have merchandise discounted for the holidays,” Ramhold said. “If you like to show your support for your favorite businesses, this is a good time to buy t-shirts and tote bags to show off your love for them.”

Use a Rewards Credit Card

“No matter where you end up shopping over the holidays, be sure to use a credit card that pays rewards, such as cash back or points,” said Laura Adams, MBA, a personal finance expert for Finder. “Plus, many cards offer extra perks, including extended warranties and travel insurance, which help make most of your purchases.

Helpful: From Airfare to Gifts to Your Tree, How To Save on Every Aspect of Holiday Spending

Use Cash-Back Browser Extensions When Shopping Online

“Rewards platforms like Rakuten work with hundreds of small business retailers to allow consumers to shop locally, as well as earn Cash Back on top of it such as LIVELY, Rothys, Little Passports and more,” said Kristen Gall, Rakuten Rewards shopping and retail expert. “Earning Cash Back for your holiday purchases is a great way to earn money back to save, or put toward additional gifts on your list to purchase this year.”

Opt For Personalized Gifts

Small businesses are more willing to work with you on ensuring that the personalized gift that you are purchasing is perfect to cater to the recipient, while being more flexible about extra fees and costs,” Gall said. “Larger companies often are harder to get in contact with, and charge additional fees for customization and creativity for their items, if an option.” 

Read: Where To Get Unique Holiday Gifts Without Leaving Your House

Ask For a Discount

“You may feel bad about doing so, and there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to do it, but it can’t hurt to ask, especially if you’re spending a significant amount of money,” Ramhold said. “Don’t be pushy and don’t be greedy — in fact, don’t put an amount on it at all if you’re going this route. Instead, just ask politely if they can offer you a discount for what you’re purchasing. If they say no, be gracious about it — thank them anyway and don’t hold it against them in the future.”

More From GOBankingRates

About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

Untitled design (1)
Close popup The GBR Closer icon

Sending you timely financial stories that you can bank on.

Sign up for our daily newsletter for the latest financial news and trending topics.

Loading...
Please enter an email.
Please enter a valid email address.
There was an unknown error. Please try again later.

For our full Privacy Policy, click here.