How to practice safe Boxing Day shopping

Beautiful women with shopping bags.
We once hired a baby sitter to sleep over so we could go out for an early breakfast on Boxing Day and then head for our favourite stores, unencumbered by toddlers. I don’t remember what we bought or how good the bargains were, but we had a lot of fun.

The point is that to get great deals on Boxing Day, you need a strategy. Just wandering over to the local mall at 11 a.m. could result in frayed nerves, too much money spent and buying a bunch of stuff you don’t really want or need.

So in the interest of promoting “safe shopping” on Boxing Day here are my suggestions:

1. Set priorities
Decide what you want most, where it can be found for the best price and make that your first stop. If you are looking for several big ticket items on sale in different places, consider a “divide and conquer” approach where individual family members each head for a separate store.

2.   Know the real price
Whether or not the sign says it’s a sale, the fact is the item may not be much of a bargain. Also, either before Boxing Day or after when the store is less chaotic, the manager may be willing to drop the already low “Boxing Week” price, particularly if the item has a scratch or dent.

3.  Check online
Check online to see advertised deals which may not be available anywhere else. The specials may also be posted after midnight and long before your morning newspaper arrives with the sale flier. My daughter got a front loading Samsung washer and dryer only sold at that price online for $800 on Boxing Day several years ago.

4.    Pre-shop
If you have your eye on a new winter coat or a pretty dress for New Years, visit the store as late as possible on December 24th to scout out the stock and try things on. That way you can be pretty sure it will still be there on Boxing Day and you will be able to grab exactly what you want without wasting valuable time and energy waiting for a dressing room.

5.    Travel light
Park indoors or close to the mall, if possible. That way you can leave your coat and boots in the car. Also, take the junk out of your purse or consider a money belt to lighten your load for the expedition. If you are comfortable, you will be less likely to make rash purchases just to get it over with.

6.    Check sizes carefully
Dressing rooms can be chaotic on Boxing Day and typically you can only take a few items in with you. When you have tried multiple sizes and styles to find what looks best on you, it is easy to inadvertently take home a top in size 12 and pants in size 14. By the time you get back to exchange the item in the wrong size, there may be nothing left to choose from.

7.    Understand the company’s return policy
Even stores that generally allow you to bring items back within 7 or 14 days for a cash refund with a receipt may suspend or modify that policy on Boxing Day, particularly if you are purchasing ends of lines. Unless you are sure the items are suitable, don’t buy things you can’t give back.

8.    Needs vs. Wants
Decide what you need, how much you can afford to spend and don’t blow the budget. Be tough when it comes to identifying “needs” vs “wants” and remember if you don’t really need something, it’s never a bargain regardless of how cheap it is.

9.  Watch your wallet
The Boxing Day crowds are prime territory for pick pockets. Hold on to your wallet and make sure you get your credit card back after you make a purchase. When you are entering your credit or debit card PIN shield the keypad so no one else can see and record the information.

10.  Count your bags
By the time you have spent several hours shopping you may have multiple bags of all shapes and sizes. Keep track of your growing haul so you don’t collapse in the Food Court for a snack and then head for home without a significant portion of your loot.

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