First published on 17 Dec 2012. Updated on 11 Dec 2013.
It sounds supremely unfashionable – joining the unglamorous throng to fight for discount dross in department stores. But those in the know say there’s diamonds among the rough, and the Boxing Day and post-Christmas sales are the prime time to grab them.
1. State your intention
Emily Power is a fashion writer and co-editor of Fashionista’s Guide to Shopping in Melbourne. An experienced sales shopper, she recommends retail reconnaissance. “You need to make a plan of what you really need... then a wish list of things you’ve had your eye on.” She suggests jeans, trench coats, and high-quality cotton shirts as priority “investment pieces”.
Scott Fiora, CEO of Australian Fashion Guide, agrees that successful shoppers have a year-round eye on clothes racks. His best buy: a Leopold trench coat, which he first saw 12 months earlier, down from $1,200 to $199. Ka-ching!
2. Don’t lose sleep over it
Traditionally, city department stores David Jones and Myer throw open the doors at dawn on Boxing Day – last year, Myer started the stampede at 5am, with more than 250,000 folks through the door that day. But if it’s fashion you’re after, Power says you can stick with beauty sleep. “Lining up in the dark and the cold, it’s really only worth it if you want to get things like TVs and fridges, where they have limited quantities on sale,” she says.
3. Let January work for you
That doesn’t stop huge crowds clamouring at the dress racks and shoe stands –but savvy shopper should avoid the crush. “Big stores do have sale strategies to keep people in store, and they don’t put all the stock out on day one – so you can rely on offers right through January.”
4. Target the little people
Power warns against targeting highturnover stores like Zara and TopShop, since they are continually discounting stock. And Fiora says factory outlets don’t tend to improve their discounts, particularly post-Christmas.
While the big department stores get most of the post-Christmas foot-traffic, Power suggests getting in early at boutiques and designers like Bettina Liano and Sass & Bide for the ladies, Autonomy and Honor Among Thieves for the lads. Also recommended: leather shoes at fashion houses like Sole Devotion, Zomp, and Camper.
5. Fifty per cent or bust
The simplest formula for what to buy, however, comes down to maths – if it’s less than half-price, forget it. “Shoppers are used to seeing 30 per cent off during the year – if that’s all that stores offer in the post-Christmas sales, it’s not enough!”