In recent years, consumers have become unsure about Boxing Day. Once the biggest sale day in Canada, it is now less popular than Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November.
There are certainly still big discounts out there, but they may be harder to find and diminished in comparison to previous years. Even worse, some retailers and online vendors will attempt to take advantage of the Boxing Day hype to coerce consumers into disadvantageous or false deals.
TL;DR Listed below are 6 tips to help you avoid Boxing Day 2018 scams and rip-offs.
Shoppers will need to be more vigilant than ever. To help you out, we've put together this list of tips to avoid Boxing Day scams and rip-offs. This list is partially adapted from similar advice for Black Friday with several additions that deal specifically with Boxing Day.
Shop before Boxing Day
There are some reports, especially out of the UK, according to the Daily Mail, that early Boxing Day sales can actually be better than those on the big day itself. Shoppers in previous years have felt "ripped off" by this apparent scam.
This undoubtedly also occurs in Canada. Shoppers ignore sales before Christmas in anticipation of the much-hyped sale day. Once Boxing Day arrives, however, shoppers find they missed out on some of the best bargains.
For this reason, the weekend before Christmas may be a better time for savings. This, of course, defeats the original purpose of Boxing Day, which is meant to be an occassion for stores to sell extra inventory after Christmas has come to an end.
For a list of pre-Boxing Day sales, look here.
Don't believe sale posters in store windows
This is as true for Boxing Day as it is for Black Friday.
Window posters that promise huge sales within can be pretty eye-catching. But often, these stickers are nothing more than a sneaky trick. Stores will purposefully only keep a small supply of the items that their posters advertise, sell out quickly, and keep the signs up to lure customers inside. Then, employees will try to tempt you with "comparable" deals that offer nowhere near the savings of the first sale.
These posters will also probably have finer print below with confusing or misleading language. It's best to just ignore sale posters, altogether.
Instead of believing seemingly impressive percentages on sale signs, a better tactic may be to compare sale prices with regular prices yourself. Shoppers should always consider how much money they are actually saving before making an impulsive purchase.
Be aware of return policies
That's according to the Montreal Gazette. Shoppers that fall for misleading sale signage only to discover that they can buy the same item for much less elsewhere may find themselves stuck with their mistake.
Confusing or nonexistant return policies on Boxing Day are a good indication that a store is attempting to pass a bad deal as a bargain.
As practice, retail employees recite return policies during or after a purchase. Ask about the possibility of returning an item before you even approach the counter.
Have flyers ready and demand discounts
How many times have you spotted an incredible coupon online only to discover that employees in store have never even heard of the deal? Some people even suspect that this is an intentional tactic to get customers in stores. But that would be fraud. Still, keep tabs open on your phone and event print out Boxing Day flyers to hold stores accountable to their promises.
Discrepancies between sale flyer prices and posted prices seem to be especially common on Boxing Day. This may be a devious trick to confuse customers or deny discounts. It's worth checking three prices before making a purchase: the Boxing Day flyer price, the online store price, and in the in-store price. Take screenshots if you must to guarantee you're getting the best deal.
Stores also often have separate sales for their online platforms. This exclusivity, however, may not always be explicitly clear. Shoppers may be lured into a store by deals posted online only to be pressured into buying their desired item at regular price. Read the fine print and figure out which products are only discounted online.
Do research on vendors and beware of knock-offs
The black market thrives as much on Boxing Day as it does on Black Friday. Online shopping platforms will be flooded with fake products from sketchy vendors. Avoid impulsive buys. Do research on sellers before making a purchase. Most vendors will have customer reviews and/or legitimate websites. Explore those before doing anything you'll regret. Once you pay, there's no getting your money back.
Further, sales that are too good to be true probably are. This is especially true for trendy toys and gifts, according to Global News. Vendors will sell counterfeit products once they sell out in stores and on accredited websites.
Skip Boxing Day altogether and wait for January deals
Boxing Day is falling in popularity as Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to gain traction in Canada. As a result, stores have less and less incentive to offer good sales the day after Christmas.
Even better deals may appear in January when stores are no longer able to capitalize on holiday hype.
Stay safe, Canada!