Paper or plastic?
While it may not seem like a big decision, selecting the right retail bag for your business involves the consideration of a few important factors. First is the type of merchandise you offer: boutiques and retail shops may benefit from gift bags, while grocery stores and stores that have more practical, everyday merchandise need sturdier bags. For this second category of merchants, the debate about which retail bags to use is generally paper versus plastic; each choice has pros and cons from financial and environmental standpoints. There's also the question of branding and marketing—that is, deciding which retail bag option will appeal most to your clientele and help your business be at the forefront of your industry.
Plastic bags are still the most common choice of bag for retailers and vendors. They're cheap, costing mere pennies per bag, and they're durable and waterproof. However, in recent years the significantly negative environmental impact of plastic bags has come to public attention, which has caused retailers to look for other options. One such option is the biodegradable "plastic" bag, which is actually made from corn and will completely break down in nature. These bags cost slightly more than traditional plastic bags, but many retailers are okay with the extra charge since they are doing their part for the environment, which many customers appreciate.
Paper bags are only slightly more costly than plastic bags, but they're considered to be more environmentally friendly than traditional plastic bags because they can be recycled and are made from biodegradable materials. They are not always the most practical option, however, as they typically have no handles and will tear easily if overloaded. They also won't stand up to rain.
Custom Retail Bags
More recently, the trend for store owners and retailers has been to order reusable custom retail bags made from canvas or another sturdy fabric. These bags can be screened with a business's logo and come in a variety of colors, styles and materials. They are also a smart choice for retailers that usually package their products in a plain retail box with tissue paper and want something branded to go over it.
Custom retail bags are a pricier option, so businesses will often sell rather than give them to their customers. But the bags are a one-time expense that can be used as shopping bags on other excursions, so the additional fee is quickly absorbed. Businesses that don't charge for the bags may still see returns on their investment through the free marketing they get when their bag is used elsewhere by the customer during shopping trips.