The Boxing Day sales are the perfect time to pick up a bargain, whether it’s a treat for ourselves, or forward-thinking to gifts for next year. With the sales falling on a Sunday this year, it is predicted that shoppers will be out in force with many online and in-store events taking place.
With several of the larger high street retailers closing their doors to give their staff some well-deserved time off after the Christmas period, and many cautious about venturing out as a result of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, it is expected that many will go online to pick up a bargain.
Traditionally, Boxing Day sales were in-store, with keen shoppers lining the streets from the early hours of the morning, or even camping overnight to grab a bargain while they could.
Despite being an incredibly popular shopping event, last year’s affair was very different to the norm after multiple retailers closed their doors due to the pandemic and many consumers moved their purchases online.
According to the Bank of England, a typical household in the UK spends just over £2,500 in an average month. But in the run up to Christmas our spending habits change, with UK consumers parting with an average of almost £740 more in December – 29% more than typically spent.
The largest growth area at this time of year is historically video, music equipment, and books, with book sales doubling in December. Spending on food and alcohol also increases, going up by an average of 20% and 38% respectively.
Boxing Day Scammers
With opportunities for bargains to be had, and with time-sensitive sales and stock moving quickly, the Boxing Day and January sales present the ideal chance for scammers to more easily defraud consumers.
Changes to the way we shop in recent years, including the evolution of advertising and retail sales through social media channels has meant that the chances of us being scammed has increased, as well as the age range of consumers being targeted broadening.
consumeradvice.scot has seen an increase in reports of scams from Scottish consumers falling into the 18-34 age bracket. The common assumption for many is that the targets of scams are in the older age groups, when in fact scammers do not discriminate based on age.
Scam online shopping ‘bargains’ cost shoppers £15.4 million over Christmas last year, according to a new report from Action Fraud.
The National Reporting Centre for Fraud and Cybercrime received reports relating to 28,049 shoppers conned out of their money when shopping online ahead of the festive season last year – an increase of almost two-thirds (61%) compared with the previous year.
Consumer Rights Considerations
Some shops will be running slightly different returns policies on sale items, so always double check each individual store’s rules on returns.
Some retailers may offer exchange-only policies on sale items. Our recent article looked at returns policies and how we can keep ourselves right when shopping this Festive Season.
Individual store policies should not, however, affect your statutory consumer rights. If you are in doubt, you can visit our Knowledge Centre to find out more about your rights in relation to purchases or get in touch with one of our specialist consumer advisers for free and impartial advice.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is
When caught up in a retail scam, the goods you purchase may never arrive, or turn out to be counterfeit items. Not only could you risk losing your money, but counterfeit goods, electronics and cosmetics also pose a direct risk to your health and safety.
Packaging often serves as an indication that an item is counterfeit, however when shopping online it can be trickier to ascertain whether goods are genuine or not. Stick to familiar or trusted retail stores online if you are unsure to prevent purchasing unsafe and untested items.
You can also use Vistalworks ‘Simple Query Tool’ which allows you to enter URL (web addresses) from Amazon and eBay.
If you come across anything that seems suspicious, or you suspect you have been targeted by a scammer, you can also report this by using our Quick Reporting Tool at scamwatch.scot.
Covid-19 Omicron Variant
Remember that things might be a little different again this year. Prepare ahead of time for queues, social distancing, and enhanced in-store hygiene. With the Omicron variant spreading rapidly across the country, new restrictions could come in as soon as Boxing Day, according to reports.
Experts are warning that it is likely that the infection rate may increase in the coming weeks, and new guidance may include changes to the rules on movement and in-store precautions in retail settings. It’s important that we take the time to familiarise ourselves with the current rules for our own area.
consumeradvice.scot have put together our top tips to help you avoid a money mishap in the Boxing Day sales this year!
Think twice before you buy – Work out how much you can afford to spend and stick to the budget.
Say no to unnecessary gifts – Make a list so you don’t end up buying gifts for the sake of it – your finances are more important!
Know your rights – Being aware of store return policies and potential sale-day exceptions can help us to avoid disappointment.
Check, Check and Check again – Remember that prices may come down further after Boxing Day.
Don’t spend all at once – Arrange to meet up with friends or family in January instead. This way, you could hit the January sales instead of paying for everything in December.
Be scam-savvy – Avoid the fakes! Counterfeit goods can be harmful and cost us more in the long run.
Stay Safe – Remember Covid-19 safety measures and follow the rules when out shopping and in public places.