Is it better to shop the sales before or after Christmas?

Aussies still want to shop the sales: But which ones are the best?

Aussies still want to shop the sales: But which ones are the best? Photo: AAP

Aussies love a good deal, and choosing the right time to shop this holiday season could make all the difference to household budgets hit hard by the cost-of-living crunch.

This year, NAB found Aussies spent about $8.7 billion across the four-day Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping period, up from the $7.1 billion spent over the same period in 2022.

Finder data shows Australians are further expected to spend more than $30 billion over Christmas, averaging out to almost $1500 each; gifts and food will account for a large chunk of the spend.

December marks the first time this year that online shoppers intend to increase spending, rather than decrease spending, a Power Retail report found.

More than 64 per cent of people surveyed cited shopping for gifts as the main reason for the increased spend.

However, the research found Boxing Day sales suffered a 10 per cent decline in interested shoppers, a significant fall from grace for the traditionally popular shopping period.

So is skipping Boxing Day in favour of pre-Christmas sales the right call?

How to choose when to shop

University of Tasmania retail expert Louise Grimmer said the past few years have seen a shift from Australians saving up to grab bargains on Boxing Day to shifting their focus (and money) towards Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

In 2022, Aussies made 40 per cent more purchases during Black Friday and Cyber Monday than during Boxing Day sales, according to ecommerce and logistics platform Shippit.

Grimmer said she expects a similar outcome this year, but said the benefits of shopping during one sales period versus the other “depends on what you’re shopping for”.

If you’re looking to save on presents to pile under the Christmas tree, shopping before the holiday is the obvious choice.

If you’re keen to make use of any gift cards thrown your way on Christmas Day, the Boxing Day sales would suit more.

“We saw consumers embracing this [Black Friday and Cyber Monday] pre-sales period more than ever before – I think many people took advantage of sales this year if they were hoping to save on their Christmas shopping, for example,” she said.

“In terms of after-Christmas shopping, this is a time when many people have been given cash or gift cards as Christmas presents and they’re keen to spend and redeem vouchers and take advantage of post-Christmas bargains.”

Top savings tips

No matter which sales period you choose to shop, Grimmer said research is key to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

“Use the internet, apps and any other trusted source of information to find out if the ‘deal’ is actually good value,” she said.

“Sometimes products are promoted as deals but may be found at competing retailers for a more competitive price.”

She also warned shoppers to be on the lookout for false websites and SMS scams – if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

“Make a list of what you are looking for and shop around. Try not to go overboard – it can be very easy at this time of year to overspend,” Grimmer said.

“If you can, try and shop small and local. This makes such a difference to small businesses who usually support local suppliers, producers, services … Shopping small and local keeps money in the community and is great for everyone.”

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