It's one of the largest shopping events of the year, but nailing how to shop the Boxing Day sales can mark the difference between bagging some style wins, or finding yourself in a fashion faux pas. Style experts share their top tips for Boxing Day shopping success.
With so much build-up, it is easy to get carried away with the Boxing Day sales, so if you find you've still got tags on last year's buys, learning how to shop the Boxing Day sales will help you to streamline your shopping tactics and in the long run, actually save you money, as you should be able to resist those costly mistakes.
The Boxing Day sales are some of my favourites, as with the fast-approaching end of the year, stores are keen to get rid of stock from the season to make way for new goodies that are set to start landing. From a consumer point of view, this means that discounts can be stacked in the shopper's favour and with online shopping, you don't even need to leave the comfort of your home (unless you enjoy the in-store hunt) to get them.
As it is the end of the season (even though cold weather will remain for some time), utilise the Boxing Day sale for securing capsule wardrobe heroes over trending items. This means pieces with actual longevity, such as the best winter coat, or a stellar pair of the best knee high boots, that will help you see out this season in style, but come back into play in six months too. Neutrals, or block colours that you love in classic silhouettes are always a winner.
How to shop the Boxing Day sales: 7 top tips for a successful shop
This season we want all of you to discover how to shop the Boxing Day sales like shopping masters. It's time to banish the idea of having clothes in your closet with the tag still on and have a sale season where any item purchased has an immediate place in your winter outfit rotation. Here are expert's top tips for shopping the sales like a pro.
Three top picks:
was £369, now £221 | A great opportunity to grab one of the best Barbour coats with over £100 off, this quilted design will keep you cosy and chic through the rest of the winter season.
1. Start early
While 'fashionably late' might work for parties, it's not ideal when it comes to learning how to shop the Boxing Day sales like a pro. Whether you're looking to join the throngs of shoppers on the high street or take up the mantle from your couch, starting early is key to bagging those bargains.
"Many people wait all year for the Boxing Day sales, so competition is high, key items, such as the best designer bags are likely to go quickly so have an idea of what you're looking for, and what you're willing to spend. Make sure you know when brands are kicking off their sales, in fact, in the run-up to the big day, it's worth signing up for the marketing emails from the stores you want to shop at, so that you can be first with the 'go live' dates. The sooner you start shopping, the more likely you are to find the designer tote bag of your dreams," suggests woman&home fashion editor Rivkie Baum.
"If you're shopping from the comfort of your own home, many sales will go live at around midnight of Boxing Day, some even start on Christmas itself, so rather than waking up early, just have a little late-night shopping party instead and then enjoy a lie in the next day," she continues.
Although for many there is nothing like the in-store experience.
"Want to know what all the fuss is about in person? Then try heading to bricks and mortar stores. You'll have to start in the early hours of the morning, and for many this is an annual tradition. It is very much a case of the 'early bird catches the worm' here. I have done it once, just out of sheer curiosity and it was a surprising amount of fun going shopping at the crack of dawn. What I will say is, get there before opening, wear something warm and comfortable and be prepared to queue. Think logically about your first shop, putting priority items to the front and if you're heading to a department store, consider which entrance you want to enter via, as you'll want to get to the right section as speedily as possible".
2. Have a list
Senior fashion stylist & writer for woman&home, Becky Joiner O'Riordan says that shopping the Boxing Day sales successfully is all in the prep work.
"Save things to your wish list / love list on your favourite websites in the run-up to the Boxing Day sales. That way, when you log onto your account, you'll be able to see straight away if items you've had your eye on have been reduced. Saves the scrolling time, so you can swoop in and grab those style steals."
It's easy to get carried away if you don't set yourself any ground rules beforehand, so having a list and knowing you've trawled through the potential offering beforehand means you should avoid any curve balls.
In fact, woman&home's deputy fashion editor, Charlie Bell, likes to go one step further with her pre-Boxing Day and suggests "have a wardrobe clear out first so you can see what pieces you need or are missing. Learn how to organise your closet - a great use of time in the winter holidays, and this helps avoid any impulse buys or picking up something you already have".
After all, a quick headcount in your wardrobe and you might find you have plenty of the best jeans but are low on the best cashmere sweaters, and high-quality knits are ideal for snapping up in the Boxing Day sales as retailers are already thinking about how to make room for spring collections. Use this exercise to help compile your shopping list.
3. Deal Comparison
This is another reason that having a Boxing Day sales list is useful. If you know what you're looking for, or which retailers you're most likely to shop with before Boxing Day, make your list of must-have items, listing the before price. If it is a brand or item sold by various outlets, use the period before the sales to keep a note of the stockists with the best price, so you can use this as a basis for a speedy deal comparison on the day itself.
Alternatively, fashion editor and stylist, Antonia Kraskowski suggests utilising Google for price comparison. "Type the name of the brand and the product into Google before you purchase and search. This will bring up all the places selling the item and the current rate so you can guarantee you're getting yourself the best deal."
4. Have a budget/limit
To navigate the Boxing Day sales successfully, setting a shopping budget is a must. It's so easy to overspend, so be strict about this point, especially as many people get paid before Christmas, the gap until January pay day is pretty significant.
Rivkie suggests "If you have a particular account or card you use for these types of expenses, transfer just enough money to create an immediate breakpoint. You can either allow one total amount to the Boxing Day sales and spend that on the day or throughout the week, or on your list, give a figure of how much you're willing to part with for each item or section. It might be you want to bag a pair of the best designer heels, as well as some separates, divvy up your budget accordingly, using prior price research to help with this task. It's hard not to get carried away in the moment, but, if something is 40% off, it is still 60% on, so think about whether you really and truly want or need the item in question, the last thing you want is shopping regret."
5. What will it go with?
The same rules apply regardless of whether you're looking to build a minimalist capsule wardrobe, or an over-50s capsule wardrobe, "don't buy new items for your wardrobe without knowing three things that it can be styled with," says Antonia. "While there is no limit to how many items can be in a capsule wardrobe, shopping the Boxing Day sales successfully is about understanding how to edit, rather than buying things because they're cheap and figuring it out later".
If you've completed your list of must-haves, the task is easier as you should be able to identify the types of items you need. "Once you've located that great sweater, or pair of leather trousers, think about how they will be styled in your wardrobe and what existing pieces you currently own that will work with them. This means you'll be able to wear sale purchases right away and they won't end up hanging in your wardrobe".
6. What's the return policy?
Not all stores have the same returns policy on sales items as they have on 'in-season' product, so it is always best to re-check the policy before making any purchase. If you're shopping online make sure the policy you're reading covers sale items, while in-store there is often a sign at the checkout, or enquire with store staff.
If there is a zero returns policy on sale items, make sure you are 100% sure of this purchase before paying; if you're not, it just wasn't meant to be.
7. Be prepared to hold out (sometimes) or walk away
If the deal doesn't feel right, you're not happy about the returns policy or you're just not 100% sold on the item, be prepared to walk away. It's a hard thing to do in the moment, but this is when you know you've mastered how to shop the Boxing Day sales when you have that inner strength. We're all guilty of having items in our wardrobes that we bought in haste and repented in leisure.
"The Boxing Day sales offer great opportunities for discounts, but this equation only works if you love and use what you buy," explains Rivkie. "And as with all sales, as the week continues there is the potential for further price drops, as well as the chance the item might be sold out. It's a gamble, and I've seen it go both ways. I've bagged one of my best trench coats ever at over 50% off by holding out and I've lost out on buying handbags, it's a risk, but you always have to be prepared to walk away if you aren't sure. Don't forget to price compare for items that are sold at multiple retailers, it will also give you an idea of how much stock is around of a particular item."
With over fifteen years' experience, Rivkie is an accomplished fashion editor, writer and stylist. Covering international fashion weeks, and styling photoshoots all over the world, Rivkie loves translating the trends in an accessible way to make fashion available for all budgets.
As deputy fashion editor at Future plc, Charlie works across multiple women’s magazines including Woman & Home, Woman and Woman's Own, ensuring she has her finger on the pulse. Beginning her career in the magazine industry in 2009, Charlie has written for titles including Stylist, Closer and Dare. With a weakness for a printed midi dress, Charlie is on a mission to shop more sustainably and loves finding new ethical brands and second-hand buys.
With over 15 years experience in the fashion industry, freelance fashion editor, Antonia Kraskowski has worked at Conde Nast, across titles including, Glamour, Vogue New Markets and Easy Living. Antonia later went on to serve as the Fashion Editor of Express Newspapers and Magazines for five years before embarking on a freelance career.
Becky Joiner-O'Riordan is a Senior Fashion Stylist & Writer. With 10 years experience in the fashion industry, she currently works across woman&home, womanandhome.com, Woman, Woman's Own, Woman's Weekly, Chat, goodto.com, and has previously worked on Harper's Bazaar, Notion and Now Magazine.
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Rivkie is a fashion editor, writer and stylist with twenty years' experience in the industry. Rivkie studied design and pattern cutting at the London College of Fashion, and fell in love with styling and journalism, and has covered fashion weeks in London, Paris and New York, as well as shooting editorial all over the world.
Specialising in plus size fashion, Rivkie has long championed that style is for everyBODY and has appeared on a host of radio stations and television shows, pushing for greater representation for plus size women and fashion throughout her career.
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