Last year, my Mom and I tried out a new holiday tradition — shopping on December 26th — where I discovered an unexpected blessing of the season, the After Christmas Discount! I scored some major deals and had fun to boot. Not everyone enjoys shopping or shopping with their mother. Truth be told, by the third store, we were pretty much done, but you can be strategic and take advantage of some significant deals. Here’s what I learned.
First up, make a list! Take inventory of what everyone got from Santa and try to fill in the gaps. I’m not suggesting fulfilling all of your kids’ toy wish list, but if they need sweaters, boots, or coats, now is the time to get them. Stores deeply discount winter merchandise throughout January to make room for the spring goods to come. A list will also help you avoid any impulse purchases.
Start in the clearance section. Many department stores will have storewide sales with up to 50 to 60 percent off, but make sure to check the clearance section first, as many retailers will have additional percentages off already marked-down items. Home improvement stores will also have clearance shelves for lawn decorations, artificial trees, and lighting.
Speaking of lights, a post-Christmas sale is great for stocking up on holiday decorations and gift-wrap for next Christmas. Just make sure to buy what you’ll definitely use next year and not get lured into a great bargain (again, that’s when a list comes in handy). But, if you see that one-of-a-kind item, go for it! Just be flexible; you may not be able to pick up an even number of winter-wonderland-owl ornaments. If nothing else, be sure to pick up twinkle lights to replace the ones that short-circuited.
Use your gift cards. If you’re worried about spending even more money this month, leave your cash at home and budget your shopping list around your gift card totals. Just be sure to read the fine print and confirm that the cards are valid on sale/discount items. Every retailer has different policies to be aware of. However, most stores will honor gift cards on all purchases, even online!
Be cautious of tricky deals. You may see a lot of buy-two-get-one-free sales or spend $100 and get 20% off. These types of bargains may end up costing you more than you want to spend. Why pay for two pairs of jeans, when you only really need one? Also, try not get roped into “Today Only” discounts on items you’re only lukewarm about. If you don’t love it or need it, don’t buy it.
Other things NOT to buy December 26th-31st include televisions, as they will probably go on sale later in January in anticipation of the Super Bowl. Exercise equipment, with many people making fitness their New Year’s resolution, stores tend not to discount treadmills, stationary bikes, etc. until later in the winter.
Lastly, wait to make exchanges. If you’re lucky enough to have gotten a gift receipt for a lackluster present, don’t rush out to exchange the next day. The returns desk will be a nightmare on December 26th and, unless you have the patience of Job, standing in line the day after Christmas to return a toaster will break your soul.
After Christmas shopping is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you want to scores some deals, get a massive jump on next year’s decorations, or enjoy a retail challenge, be sure to set your alarm bright and early on December 26th.