It could be the last major sales event for a while, as retailers, especially in fashion, look to curb Australians’ addiction to perpetual discounting. David Jones, which has been running Boxing Day sales for 114 years, has already said it will run shorter clearances in future, and brands across the board are rethinking how they make and release new stock to reduce end-of-season wastage.
Public relations boss Sarah Gale has worked on many Boxing Days for clients including David Jones. Her common-sense tips include packing water and a snack, hand sanitiser, wear flat shoes and bring reusable bags.
“I always head straight to David Jones’ designer shoes, followed by lingerie,” she says. “I also find denim a good sale buy as the styles are less seasonal and often you can get lucky with leftover sizes.”
If Black Friday is more an online play with an emphasis on Christmas gifting, then Boxing Day has traditionally focused on in-store markdowns, though this year will be different as retailers look to keep things COVID-safe, says Browne. “People tend to shop the Boxing Day sales for themselves … maybe buying the things they didn’t get as gifts.”
Personal stylist and fashion blogger Sally Mackinnon recommends having a list and not just browsing for things. “Ask yourself, ‘Do I love this enough that I would have bought it full price?'”
Boxing Day often presents an opportunity to “shop up” a price bracket but that doesn’t mean you’re always getting a better product, says Browne. Take Finder’s 2020 retail awards, which placed Kmart’s air-fryer ahead of much more expensive brands.
Browne says some of the best Boxing Day buys are fragrance sets, game consoles and 2020 tech – basically anything that a few days prior would have had “Christmas wish list” written all over it.
Here are some of the best deals around.
Replace anything past its best-before (the little jar symbol is your guide) at Napoleon Perdis (20 per cent if you spend $100, 30 per cent off holiday collection) or Sephora (up to 50 per cent off selected brands, including Fenty Beauty and Bite Beauty). For more good discounts, try Alpha-H (up to 50 per cent off), Grown Alchemist (20 per cent off holiday collection) and ModelCo and MCoBeauty (up to 50 per cent off).
Tip: If you’re buying a gift set, know the price and size of the feature product (for instance, perfume) so you can work out if it’s a good deal. If a 50ml bottle is $100, and a gift set for the same price only has 30ml but has a lotion, ask yourself what’s worth having more.
The best buys on Boxing Day are usually swimwear and footwear but it pays to seek out staples such as blazers, jeans and layering knits. Head to Aussie faves SIR (20 per cent off selected styles) Aje (up to 30 per cent), Manning Cartel (up to 50 per cent), bassike (further 20 per cent off sale styles), St. Agni (extra 30 per cent off sale) and By Johnny (up to 80 per cent off past seasons) for some of the biggest savings. Luxury emporiums Harrolds and Marais are both clearing big-name brands at up to 50 per cent off, while internationals include Hugo Boss (further 50 per cent off sale), Sandro Paris and Maje (both up to 60 per cent off). Guys can grab new streetwear from Superdry (up to 50 per cent off storewide), suits from MJ Bale (25 per cent off full price, plus other deals) and if you need new boxers, Calvin Klein has up to 50 per cent off. Online-only deals include Net-a-Porter (sale now up to 70 per cent off) and Order of Style (20 per cent off site-wide), and if it’s a bikini you’re after, check out Tigerlily (up to 40 per cent), TJ Swim (20 per cent off site-wide), Andie Swim (25 per cent off selected) and Bondi Born (up to 60 per cent off past seasons).
Tip: Check the return policy. Some stores won’t refund or exchange sale stock, while others will offer store credit only.
Prices on small appliances rarely drop by more than 15 per cent, so if you see better, such as Kitchenaid’s 25 per cent off (December 26 only) – strike. In the market for a new sofa? Globewest has up to 60 per cent off, while Koala has discounts on its mattresses, quilts and furniture. For sheets and towels, David Jones, Sheridan and Bed, Bath & Table will have up to 50 per cent off. And for the little (and big) kids, David Jones also has 20 per cent off toys.
Tip: If you have time, go touch and feel the products you may want now (have a top three in case one isn’t discounted) so you can buy them online and have them delivered so you can focus on the more “high touch” items in store, such as shoes. Don’t forget your hand sanitiser.
Buy now pay later: quick comparison guide
We recommend doing research and understanding the terms and conditions before using any financial service.
Afterpay: Like a reverse lay-by, with no credit checks. Repay in four equal fortnightly instalments over six weeks, from day of purchase. Late fees up to $68 for non-payment (this can affect your credit score).
Zip Pay: More like a line of credit, up to $1000. Repay minimum $40 a month. Monthly fees apply after 60 days, plus late fees for non-payments.
Klarna: Like a digital cash card, up to $1000. Repay in four instalments from date of purchase, or a lump sum. Option to “snooze” repayments for 14 days once per order, for a small fee.
Many tech sales begin as early as Christmas Eve, so if you’ve already done your homework, you can bag a bargain before Santa even leaves the North Pole. Headphones are always a great buy; Skullcandy has 20 per cent off some styles, and there are sure to be great deals on previous model Sony, Bose and Beats by Dr Dre, to name a few. Bing Lee is discounting everything from laptops to phone accessories and coffee machines. And if it’s Apple products you’re after, third-party sellers such as JB Hi-Fi are your best bet.
Tip: Check your ego. Why buy the top-of-the-range iPad if an earlier or “lighter” version will give you the functions you need, for a fraction of the cost? Read reviews and when in doubt, ask around. Nothing beats firsthand advice, especially from people not earning commission.
Along with air-fryers, massage guns were a big trend in 2020, and Theragun has discounts of up to $200 on most models. For new gear, including sunglasses, try Stylerunner (up to 50 per cent off), Reebok (70 per cent off outlet) and Local Supply (20 per cent off). Shoe heaven sneakerboy has 25 per cent off most styles for two days only (December 26-27). And if it’s classes you’re after (hello, 2021 resolutions!), Love Athletica has 10-packs for $170 (down from $265).
Tip: Unless you’re a sneaker freaker, it doesn’t matter if your runners are last season. Take a partner or mate as often the deals are designed to encourage multi-buys, for example, get 50 per cent off a second pair.
Information current as of December 23.
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Melissa Singer is National Fashion Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.