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How to shop smart in the Boxing Day sales

If you're keen to shop in the end-of-year sales, these tips can help you get a good deal.

negotiating instore electronics
Last updated: 11 December 2023


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Need to know

  • The end-of-year sales can be a good time to pick up an item you've had your eye on for a reduced price, but it's important to do your research
  • A quarter of shoppers we surveyed said they intend to shop in the Boxing Day sales
  • Be wary of products that failed to impress CHOICE testers

Hot on the heels of the Black Friday sales in November, both retailers and shoppers are gearing up for the end-of-year and the Boxing Day sales that kick off as early as mid-December and last until early January. 

According to research from the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Roy Morgan, it's estimated that shoppers spent $6.36 billion across the four-day Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend in November 2023 (a 3% increase on 2022). So does that mean that Boxing Day sales might be less busy than previously? 

 Not necessarily, according to Paul Zahra, CEO of the ARA. 

"Retailers are competing for customers at a time when discretionary spending is softening. That means retailers will be sharpening their pencils to attract customers." 

While discretionary spending might be lower than in previous years, the pressure to spend will still be high. Get the most from the sales by following our expert advice to help you save.

5 expert tips to save in the sales

shopping boxing day sales online

Almost 40% of people we surveyed said they don't think the discounts advertised during sales events are always genuine.

According to a CHOICE poll run in early December, just over 25% of shoppers intend to shop in the Boxing Day sales, with clothing, home and kitchen products, electronics and appliances, and beauty products all popular categories for Australians looking for a bargain. 

Despite the inclination to spend, there's a certain level of scepticism when it comes to highly advertised sales periods. Nearly 40% of those we surveyed said they don't believe the discounts they see during peak sale times are always genuine. 

If you're keen to get a good deal this Boxing Day, CHOICE experts have the following advice.

1. Be wary

With so much pressure to spend, CHOICE editorial director Mark Serrels suggests a cautious approach is best. 

"Despite the hype, there will always be deals on high-profile products at other times in the year. It's always worth checking out historical price trackers like CamelCamelCamel or LowerSpendings to see if something is really on sale during Boxing Day, or if it's just a marketing trick," says Mark.

2. Be prepared

It also pays to do some research before you buy. Mark suggests you make a list and know what you want before you begin shopping.

"If possible, do a quick price check for specific items to make sure you're getting the best deal. Information is power," he says.

It's also worth taking the time to find out which products perform well and which should be avoided.

Make a list and know what you want before you begin shopping

In the 2022 Boxing Day sales the most popular product categories on the CHOICE website were air fryers, coffee machines, stick vacuums, robot vacuums, smart TVs and dishwashers. But whatever you've got your eye on, checking CHOICE's independent reviews is a good way to stay clear of poor performers.

To make sure you don't get lumped with a shonky product in the sales, check out the worst products we tested in 2023.

couple researching online

It's essential to do your research before buying if you want to bag a genuine bargain in the sales.

3. Negotiate

Mark suggests that if you see a better price when researching, you should use it to your advantage. "When it comes to big-ticket items like TVs or laptops, haggling may be an option," he says. 

CHOICE mattress expert Peter Zaluzny agrees that asking for a discount can be effective. 

"We've been buying mattresses for years for our tests and found many retailers have a lot of room to move on price," he says. 

"If you're confident and have done your research, you can usually shave a decent amount off the price tag by haggling. Just ask them 'What's the best price you can do?' and go from there."

4. Look for items on clearance

According to the ARA's Paul Zahra, it's worth remembering that Boxing Day is a clearance event. 

"Expect many items to be heavily discounted as retailers will want to clear stock, particularly if they haven't traded to expectations," he says.

Our CHOICE experts agree that retailers may be trying to move stock at these end-of-year sales. While big spending during Black Friday may mean that retailers have run out of stock on some items there will still be bargains if you know what to look for. 

"Keep an eye out for premium-priced models of TVs as these need to be moved before April 2024, when they'll be superseded by new models," says CHOICE tech expert Denis Gallager.

"Retailers have a much bigger margin to work with on premium TVs so, while you may see less choice, there could be bigger discounts," he says.

5. Bundle for a better price

Peter also suggests that bundling your purchases can help you save even more.

"If you're buying a mattress, look out for good deals on linen, mattress protectors and pillows, too. These are also typically on sale during these periods and you can even talk a bit more off the price if you buy all the items at once," he says.

This tactic doesn't only apply to mattresses and you can give it a go when purchasing any group of products from one retailer – a TV and a soundbar perhaps, or a new washing machine and dryer. 

What to watch out for

In the age of widespread scams, caution is needed to avoid getting caught by criminals who want to rip you off. 

"Boxing Day is a huge time for online shopping and sales, which also means scammers will be out in full force. We have recently seen a lot of fake websites impersonating major brands, so ensure the retailer you are buying from is genuine," says Mark.

We have recently seen a lot of fake websites impersonating major brands

Mark Serrels, CHOICE editorial director

According to the ACCC, there have been 2760 reports of fake online stores this year, resulting in losses of more than half a million dollars. In total, online shopping scams cost Australians more than $6.2 million, between 1 January and 30 September 2023.

"At CHOICE, we recommend paying close attention to the URL of websites you're buying from. Most big brands will have very clean URLs with the brand name and little else. Also, look out for red flags such as typos, bad design, huge discounts that are too good to be true, unusual URLs or odd payment methods," says Mark.

Unnecessary extended warranties

There are also legal ways you can be ripped off. 

If you're buying an expensive item in the sales, be wary of adding an extended warranty to your purchase, even if the salesperson tells you it's a good deal. And if you're buying online, check to make sure an extended warranty hasn't been automatically added to your shopping cart. 

An extended warranty might also be called extended care, concierge service or gold service extras. Whatever it's called, it's the same thing: an extra charge you pay at the time of purchase that promises to prolong the length of time that the product is covered in case of failure. The problem is that in most cases, an extended warranty means you're paying for rights you already have.

Under the Australian Consumer Law, products you buy in Australia are automatically covered by consumer guarantees, which means you are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund if you end up with a product that doesn't function as it should for a "reasonable time". 

In most cases, an extended warranty means you're paying for rights you already have

These guarantees apply regardless of what a manufacturer's warranty says, so if you're $5000 TV packs it in shortly after the warranty expires you are entitled to a remedy, regardless of what's in the warranty. 

Regardless of what the salesperson might tell you, your purchase is already protected under Australian law, and you shouldn't pay for rights you already have.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.