Bargain hunters rejoice, the Boxing Day sales are upon us.
Trying to snag a deal can be risky businesses, though, as shown in the lead up to Christmas when five people were taken to hospital after being crushed in a stampede of shoppers desperate to snatch a prize at a Sydney shopping centre giveaway.
Crowds aren’t the only thing shoppers need to be wary of as end-of-year sales madness descends, there are plenty of lesser horrors – from questionable electrical goods to disappointing bedding – to dodge on shop floors as well.
This year’s sales are tipped to break records, with the National Retailers Association estimating that consumers could spend $2.62 billion on Boxing Day alone, and Roy Morgan forecasting sales totalling $18.72 billion over the entire post-Christmas trading period (December 26 to January 15).
So how should shoppers best navigate the array of discounts and deals on offer?
Thankfully, consumer advocate Choice has rounded out a busy year of fighting for product safety reforms and digging up dirt on money-grabbing funeral directors, with a guide to Boxing Day’s worst buys.
“Australians are getting smarter at the Boxing Day sales every year,” Choice managing editor Margaret Rafferty said.
When Boxing Day rolls around, consumers switch from searching for fun gifts and entertainment to essentials.
“People are looking to save money on the big household items – washing machines, TVs, fridges and the like,” Ms Rafferty said.
Duds to avoid
Choice compiled a list of the worst products in each of the five most popular Boxing Day shopping categories, which are:
- Washing machines
- Portable air-conditioners.
The list of fridge models to steer clear of features IKEA’s Nedkyld, which was awarded a 2019 Shonky Award – the Oscars of bad consumer goods – for failing to live up to its energy star rating, and being bad at keeping food cold. The Nedkyld sits alongside fridges from Westinghouse and Beko.
Washing machines from Panasonic, Samsung, and Speed Queen make the list as do televisions by Polaroid, Sony and Ffalcon.
When it comes to mattresses, SleepMaker, Ikea and Tempur all sell models that Choice advises consumers to avoid.
For portable air-conditioning units that do little to take the edge off summer heat, Choice names two models by Polocool and one from Goldair.
Consumers can download the entire Boxing Day cheat sheet here.
‘Research is everything’
The Boxing Day sales rush starts before Christmas Day is over, with many retailers announcing their deals late on Christmas night.
But what may seem like a good deal may be anything but, Ms Rafferty warned.
Researching products and doing price comparisons, before hitting the stores, is crucial.
“Despite our enthusiasm for bargains, the reality is this is a day where retailers often try to fob off the duds they couldn’t sell throughout the year,” Ms Rafferty said.
“You can pick up a bargain, but research is everything.”