Official Student Newspaper of Henry M. Gunn High School

Carly Liao

Con: Should students avoid shopping at big businesses?

Although purchasing from small businesses is often heralded as the most communal and ethical way to shop, large businesses have perks that are consistently overlooked. With thousands of stores scattered throughout the world, these businesses are usually where most people obtain everyday items. Due to the high amount of revenue large businesses receive, they are able to invest in themselves, allowing them to present consumers with cheaper products and lower financial risk—benefits which small businesses simply do not have the resources to replicate. Thus, students should take advantage of this by shopping more frequently at large businesses.

Generally, small businesses are not as long-lived as large businesses. According to business magazine Entrepreneur, 20% of small businesses fail within their first year, 50% within five years and 70% within 10 years. These collapsing businesses essentially act as quality control: Those that do not have the ability to sustain themselves over time usually do not provide services or products unique enough to generate much interest. On the other hand, large businesses are more reliable, with well-established reputations built by their customers.

With this experience, large businesses are capable of giving buyers an optimal deal for their products. A large consumer base permits companies to mass-produce, purchasing materials from suppliers in sizable quantities to decrease the per unit production cost. For the same profit, these items have lower, more attractive selling prices. Especially when similar items are sold at small businesses for a higher price, consumers should not be ashamed to purchase more affordable alternatives from large businesses.

A large business’s in-person locations can offer customers more convenience and a lower total cost. With a limited number of physical stores open, few small business patrons have the luxury of testing out products before buying them. The lack of product interaction increases the need for returns or exchanges, a tedious process and unnecessary hassle. Online shopping at small businesses is an inadequate alternative, forcing shoppers to click through pages of images and long lists of information. Even after finding the desired product at an online small business, customers are still required to pay high shipping prices. Shopping at a big business in person leaves customers content with lower prices and a trouble-free shopping experience.

Some may argue that shopping at large businesses is unethical because it supports business practices that may be monopolistic, taking exclusive control over a certain product or service. However, the high number of customers shopping at large businesses does not immediately indicate monopolistic practices, with small businesses continuing to be a staple in many lives. According to the “New York Post,” the average person shops at small businesses 213 times in a year, and 93% of people rely on small businesses for specific events in their lives. If large businesses have completely dominated and controlled their markets, there would no longer be shoppers at small businesses. Any business with quality products is bound to gain traction and build a considerable consumer base without stifling growth and creativity in others.

Moreover, though many say that small businesses present better customer service, large businesses can often outperform them due to their higher employment rates. According to Forbes, 80% of small businesses don’t have any employees, and 16% have only one to 19. The vast majority of small business employees can have a difficult time balancing multiple jobs at once—it is exhausting and close to impossible for a few people to provide quick customer service on top of general maintenance and managing orders. Large businesses struggle less with this underemployment and overexertion issue.

Thus, it is of paramount importance for consumers to realize the often underappreciated perks of large businesses. All businesses present a unique set of advantages and disadvantages, but the many benefits shared among larger ones are the elements that create an inviting environment and a reliable resource for everyday purchases.

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