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BBB offers advice for advertising your business during the holidays

By Kelly Trevino, Regional Director, Corpus Christi Better Business Bureau

It’s that wonderful time of the year again: long lines, big crowds and even bigger bargains. With Christmas quickly approaching, followed by the New Year holiday, many businesses have already started advertising seasonal sales, discounts and specials to attract customers.

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend an average $967.13 this year. That’s an increase of over 3 percent from last year.

As part of BBB’s Standards for Trust, BBB Accredited Businesses are required to advertise honestly and follow BBB’s Code of Advertising. BBB’s Code of Advertising serves as a guide for businesses to ensure your advertising is fair and truthful and so that customers can have a satisfying shopping experience.

It’s also important for your business to advertise any special offers, like one-time only coupons and hours of operation since many businesses may be closed on the holidays. Communication is key, so be sure to regularly update your customers on your website or social media sites of special offers and business hours.

When you prepare to advertise for the holidays, BBB advises you to keep these sales terms in mind:

  • Comparative price, value and savings claims. Advertisers may offer a price reduction or saving by comparing their selling price with either their former selling price, the current selling price of identical merchandise or the current selling price of comparable merchandise sold by the advertiser or by others in the market area.
  • The word “sale” should be used only when there is a significant reduction from the advertiser’s usual price. The “sale” must be for a limited time. If it exceeds 30 days, an advertiser should be able to substantiate that the offering is a valid reduction and has not become the regular price.
  • Lowest price. Because prices fluctuate rapidly, sellers have a difficult time comparing their lowest price with all competitors. If advertisers claims to have the lowest price, they should have evidence to verify their claim.
  • “Up to” savings. Savings or price reduction claims covering a group of items with a range of savings should state both the minimum and maximum savings without undue or misleading displays of the maximum.
  • The word “free” may be used in advertising when a business is offering an unconditional gift. If getting the free item requires a purchase:
  • The advertiser must disclose this condition clearly and together with the “free” item
  • The normal price of the merchandise or service to be purchased must not have been increased or its quantity or quality reduced.
  • The “free” offer must be temporary – otherwise it would become a continuous combination offer.

For more important business advice, visit our website at under the “For Businesses” section, or our independent blog,

Kelly Trevino is the regional director for the Corpus Christi/Victoria area of Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin. Kelly is available for media interviews and speaking engagements. You can reach her by phone: (361) 945-7352 or email: