Boxing Day sales: How UK shoppers can get the best deals

setail experts expect “big discounts for savvy consumers” in the Boxing Day sales as stores slash prices for unsold winter clothes, homewares and tools after the cost-of-living crisis, strikes and snow marred the most important trading period on Christmas Street.

In recent years, the big discounts available on Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday have taken away the thunder of Boxing Day. However, after the rebate was delayed in December, when Christmas shopping was in full swing, transport and mail strikes disrupted visits to the high street as well as online shopping.

Ken Tan, director of retail at PricewaterhouseCoopers, says the disruption means many retailers will be left with excess inventory at the end of the year. “As a result, retailers are expected to reward patient shoppers with larger-than-usual discounts as they clear out seasonal inventory on Boxing Day sales, ahead of what could be a challenging 2023.”

So, if you’re hoping to land a bargain, we’ve got some top tips for successful sales shopping – but don’t forget what personal finance expert Martin Lewis says: “If you’re going to buy it anyway, it’s half-price, wow, you save 50%.” You wouldn’t buy it but only because it’s half the price, you’ve wasted 100%.”

Do your research

You can avoid wasting money on Boxing Day sales by planning ahead and skipping impulse buys. If you’re after a specific item, check its cost at several retailers now, so you can see if and when you’re making real savings if it appears on sales.

The product must have been on sale at a higher price for at least 28 days for the retailer to mark it as a discount. “There are strict rules that retailers have to adhere to when announcing discounts in a sale,” says the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman, a government-approved voluntary scheme for the retail sector.

This is to ensure you can be confident the discount is real. You won’t be entitled to the difference if items are further reduced after you’ve made your purchase, so make sure you’re happy with the current price you’re committing to paying and don’t feel pressured by messages like ‘two Only left” or “Three other customers are viewing this item.”

Do you really need what you are thinking of buying? Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

Reading consumer and expert reviews before buying into a sale can help you make a smart decision, especially when it comes to tech products. Also, look at your finances beforehand and set a budget for sale shopping.

Rena Cioraz, retail editor at Consumer Authority Who?, says: “Make a wish list of what you want in advance to avoid impulse purchases you might regret later. Shop online to gauge prices, so you can spot a bargain from an inflated discount. Some retailers promise a price match if you see a cheaper item elsewhere.”

go online…

Retailers these days often start their sales before Christmas, and after a tough few weeks, many chains have fired the starting gun by Christmas Eve, often offering early access to customers who signed up to receive newsletters.

A woman shopping online
Check your emails before making an online purchase in case we send you details of additional discounts. Photo: filadendron/Getty Images

For example, high street stores & Other Stories and Jigsaw & Cos offered newsletter subscribers early access to sales by December 15th, and an early online H&M sale launched as well. Remember to check your emails for any additional savings that may be available, such as codes for additional discounts or free delivery.

…but think before you click

Shopping online during sales can make you more vulnerable to fraud as scammers try to take advantage of bargain hunters.

Use only trusted sites for online shopping. If you’re using a site for the first time, it’s worth checking if it has good reviews on Trustpilot or if other shoppers have flagged it as a likely scam.

Never transfer money directly to the seller, and remember that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you fall victim to a scam, let your bank know as soon as possible and report it to Action Fraud.

I started early

Stores and websites are expected to be busy on Boxing Day, when 20.8 million people are set to buy something, according to VoucherCodes’ Christmas Shopping Report 2022.

Although the number is not as large as in previous years, around 13.1 million people are expected to take to the high streets and shopping centres, with £2.3 billion to be spent in stores in just one day. A further £1.3 billion is expected to be spent online on December 26 as 7.8 million people shop from home.

Although total spending is expected to reach £3.6 billion, this is a drop of almost 10% on last year, as soaring food and fuel bills forced Britons to use their budgets to pay for Christmas itself.

“Boxing Day sales have always been known as a great time to get your post-Christmas deal,” says Anita Naik, savings expert at VoucherCodes. However, with the cost-of-living crisis putting such a strain on people’s finances, it’s not surprising that this year fewer of us are turning to sales.

“If you plan to browse sales after Christmas, make sure you are an expert with your money. Compare prices at different retailers to make sure you get the biggest discount possible, and always make sure to check discount codes.”

Also, if you plan to visit stores, keep in mind that the best discounts will most likely be available earlier in the day.

Adds Sewraz, “If you’re hitting the stores, the best deals are likely to be snapped up quickly, so it can pay to start early. But be careful not to get caught up in the hype. Consider whether the discounted price offers real savings, and make sure you buy.” A quality product at a price that offers real value for money.”

Bargain hunters are expected to spend a total of £13.8bn between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, according to the VoucherCodes report, but again the total number is down from last year due to financial pressure from the cost of living crisis.

People carry shopping bags as they look for bargains at the traditional Boxing Day sales in Liverpool in 2021
About 13.1 million people are expected to take to shopping malls and high streets on Boxing Day. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

While getting into stores earlier in the sales period usually yields the best results, Deann Evans, director of partnerships and expansion for e-commerce platform Shopify, expects online sales to extend into January more than usual — so it could be worth it. Hold your nerve to see if the price goes down further.

“This year nearly half of UK consumers are setting aside more money for the holiday season than they did previously,” says Evans. “So we may see sales sabotage for the traditional ‘Boxing Day’ period, whether it creeps up earlier and extends deeper into January.”

Think ahead of the summer

Winter sales can sometimes be a good time to buy summer items at a deep discount but again make sure you are buying items that you know you will need.

“Boxing Day and January sales are the perfect time to think ahead for the summer. If you want to buy some bikinis or beachwear for your summer vacation, you might be lucky and find items at a much cheaper price during the winter, when there isn’t as much demand,” According to the Essential Student Living website.

Check your redemption rights

Return and refund rules often differ for items purchased on sale, so make sure you know your rights before you buy.

Retailers are required to offer a refund if the item is defective, not as described or does not do what it is supposed to do. This applies to sale items and full-price products, whether purchased in-store or online.

Shoppers who made an online purchase have 14 days to let the retailer know they want a refund, and another 14 days to send the item back. They do not have to provide a reason for the return.

Some stores will change their refund and returns policies during the sales period, either shortening the amount of time you have to redeem an item or offering only store credit instead of a cash refund.

Retailers do not have to offer refunds for certain products, including customized or customized products, perishable items—for example, food or flowers—and unwrapped CDs, DVDs, or toys. You can only get a refund on these items if the product is defective.

Value is always in fashion

It can be easy to get sucked into the Boxing Day sale, especially when there are deep discounts on offer everywhere you look. If you plan to use this year’s sales to update your wardrobe, there are a few things to consider before hitting the stores.

In the UK, the average person owns 115 items of clothing, 30% of which have not been worn within the last year. So, before buying anything new, browse through the clothes you already own and consider purchases that will give them a new lease on life.

Experts say successful sales shopping is about writing a list of what you need and chasing after those things without getting sidetracked. Journalist Lucy Siegle suggests only buying clothes you can see yourself wearing 100 times, so read this to yourself if you’re drawn to something cool that you know deep down won’t go a long way.

It’s better to be boring and look for safe investment purchases, like a winter woolen coat, boots, or accessories that you’ll use year after year. Think quality, not quantity. check. Only buy an item of clothing if it fits in the locker room instead of the diet you plan to continue into January. If you’re shopping online, make a wish list on your favorite retailer’s website during the downtime over the Christmas period, and check back when the discounts kick in.

A shopper wears a Christmas sweater as he walks past shops on Oxford Street in central London in December 2022
In the UK, the average person owns 115 items of clothing. Photo: Isabel Infantes/AFP/Getty Images

With £140m worth of clothing ending up in landfill every year, if you have a particular item in mind why not see if you can get it for cheaper. There’s eBay, Vinted, and Depop for high-end clothing, Vestiaire Collective, and RealReal for designer. Many charity shops also have online portals.

Another thing to consider is what kind of fabric the garment is made of. The 100 times rule will probably discount bulky cheap garments that are on the value end of the market, but will likely keep a dress for much longer if it isn’t made of sticky polyester. Look for natural fibers, such as organic cotton and wood-based fabrics – Tencel and EcoVero, for example.

Whatever you do, don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Only head to the tillers if you’re sure the style is right for you, and most of all in these tough times, if you’re sure you can afford it.

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