In many countries, Dec. 26 marks Boxing Day, the secular sequel to Christmas and one of the biggest shopping days of the year. In the States, however, the 26th of December is the day that you brave icy roads and long lines to return that copy of “The Mummy” on Blu-ray that your aunt gifted you, but it’s also the day you make impulse buys on increasingly popular “day after Christmas” sales.
Despite those winter-fresh gift cards burning holes in your pockets, don’t get trigger-happy — some deals are best left for the days way, way after Christmas. Find out what not to buy on Boxing Day so you can avoid the pitfalls, and save your cash for the legit deals, instead.
Home Exercise Equipment
Getting in shape is a perennially popular New Year’s resolution, but don’t jump the gun on your goals. Exercise equipment manufacturers and gyms are well aware of the resolution boon (in fact, gyms rely on it to stay in business), so wait until January for the real deals to start. According to Consumer Reports, the first month of the year is the busiest time for exercise equipment and fitness product sales, including big discounts on everything from treadmills to ellipticals.
Holiday Treats for Next Year
If you’re planning to nosh on Christmas-tree-shaped chocolate and caramel popcorn yourself, the day after Christmas is a wonderful time to buy price-slashed goodies. But if you’re thinking about buying red-foiled boxes of chocolates or Santa-emblazoned tins of popcorn to stow away as cheap gifts for next year, think again. Anything can happen a year from now — the food might get stale, ants could get in it or worse — and you don’t want to get anyone sick during the holidays next year.
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Just before the holiday season starts, it’s worth considering pet adoption, as vacation time frees you up to spend more time with your fledgling fur baby. But by the day after Christmas, that ship has pretty much sailed — living beings aren’t impulse buys.
If you missed the holidays, wait until spring to adopt. You’ll be doing your new kitten or puppy and the shelter that housed it a huge favor. Due to mating habits, already overcrowded shelters take in a staggering influx of baby critters during the season of love, according to PETA.
According to ShopperTrak, Dec. 26 is the eighth-busiest day of the year for traffic. And when everyone is Uber-ing to the same place, you know exactly what that means: pricing surges.
Avoid paying inflated rates by using a free app like SurgeProtector to help find nearby locations with lower rideshare pricing, or if you know you’ll be hitting the mall the day after Christmas, use Lyft to schedule a ride and lock in your price up to seven days in advance.
Sure, stores might offer Boxing Day deals on gift cards to catch your eye at the register, but it pays to wait just a tiny bit longer for the real deals to hit. Websites that sell unused gift cards at a discount, like CardCash and GiftCards.com, buy most of their cards during the holidays. In December 2016, CardCash’s official blog said that the company expected “millions of Americans to turn their unwanted gift cards into cash.” More stock often means better prices on cards that already offer regular discounts of about 15 to 25 percent on gift cards from popular brands like AMC, HP, Fandango and AutoZone.
In past years, jewelry retailers like Macy’s, Kay Jewelers and Zales ran in-store and online sales in February that included 70 percent off gold earrings and 30 percent off other fine jewelry. So think of it this way: For every day that you don’t impulse buy a necklace for your sweetheart starting on December 26th, that’s money you’re saving to catch the better Valentine’s Day sales later.
Fragrances tend to see a price cut in March. Instead of Boxing Day buys, get strategic with your Mother’s Day perfume purchase; the few weeks right after Valentine’s Day is the sweet spot for fragrance savings, as retailers are hitting a V-Day lull but not quite ready to gear up for mom’s big day in May.
Though the stacks of bed sets returned for being the wrong size might look tempting, they’re not the best things to buy after Christmas — at least not the day after Christmas, that is. Instead, wait until January “white sales,” which typically happen around Martin Luther King Day weekend. Your patience will pay off with discounts of up to 75 percent on sheets, comforters, pillows, towels and more from major retailers.
Winter Clothes and Jackets
When you’re making that day-after Christmas list (and checking it twice) of things to wait on buying until February, you might as well add another item: winter clothes.
Although they might not be as romantic as jewelry and perfume, the biggest discounts in this category (especially coats and boots) also hit during the second month of the year, as February just so happens to be the exact month that fresh spring styles arrive in stores. Rummage through the racks on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays to maximize the number of retailer markdowns you find.
You’ve got two options for maximizing your savings on major appliances, and neither of them is Boxing Day sales.
If you can wait until May for Memorial Day to hit, you’ll commonly see savings of up to 40 percent on fridges, washing machines and ranges from retailers like Lowes and Home Depot. For washers, dryers and gas grills, NBC News reports that Labor Day sales in September can’t be beaten. You don’t want to load up that new oven in an icy parking lot, anyway.
Calendars and Planners
Seeing a trend yet? We don’t mean to discount day-after-Christmas sales entirely (pun intended), but often times, patience really does pay.
Although you might be raring to go with your “new you” plans by the 26th, if you can keep your life organized till mid-January, you’ll find far better deals on planners and calendars than Boxing Day sales can offer. Because sales of these items peak with the Christmas and New Year’s resolution crowds, MarketWatch says to expect savings of up to 50 percent a few weeks into January.
Maybe you netted a brand-new gaming console or a 4K-enabled streaming box and want to put it through its paces with a new Ultra HD TV. As is often the case on the day after Christmas, patience pays. Consumer Reports says that the deepest TV discounts this side of Black Friday happen in the few weeks leading up to the Super Bowl (that’s Feb. 3, 2019, for non-gridiron fans).
Your holiday travels might have left you wanting a little more luggage swag, but seek deals in spring instead of Boxing Day sales. Luggage tends to go on sale in March when there’s a lag in people going on vacation and inventories begin to pile up, NBC News reported.
Look, you’re going to be boxing up those Christmas decorations in a few days, anyway, so you might as well pack up some fresh (and cheap) ones.
Although it’s true that big discounts on holiday decor start as soon as the day after Christmas so decorations aren’t the worst things to buy the day after Christmas, rein in your reindeer for just a few days until retailers really raze those prices to the ground. Half off isn’t uncommon on Dec. 26, but you can do better; in the first few days of January, retailers like Home Depot and Yankee Candle have lowered prices on holiday decorations by 75 percent.
More Than You Need
With the discounts abundant, it’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of a good bargain, but the easiest way to save money is to not spend it at all on Boxing Day shopping.
If you find yourself getting a serious case of “Sale Brain” on Boxing Day, it’s time to re-evaluate your purchases. Ask yourself: Do you really need two new salad spinners — even if they are 75 percent off? And is your current armoire good enough, even though this new one is on a deep discount?
Make sure to shop — and spend — wisely this Boxing Day, and you’ll be sure to land a great deal. Then take a break on New Year’s. You’ve earned it.
More on Holiday Shopping
- Your Complete Price-Matching Guide: Target, Walmart and More
- Christmas Conundrum Cracked: What Gifts People Really Want This Christmas
- Holiday Tipping Etiquette Guide — What You Need to Know
- Watch: Treating Finances Like a Game Could Get You Rich
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.