Boxing Day is celebrated in many Commonwealth countries on December 26th, and it’s one of those bank holidays that no one really seems to agree on the origins. Some say it started with aristocrats giving boxed gifts to their tenants, while others believe it used to be a day when churches opened donation boxes and distributed the contents to the poor.*
But for those of us living in Canada, we know that Boxing Day is actually a celebration of all things discounted. Too-good-to-be-true deals are advertised days, and even weeks, before Boxing Day to ensure shoppers go to sleep on Christmas night with visions of cheap goods dancing in their heads.
Some of the best deals (if you can actually get your hands on them) are on electronics, and big box stores open before dawn on the 26th to allow all the shoppers who started lining up on Christmas night to access “door crasher deals.” Although most of the major electronics retailers only have limited stock (read: one per store), that just fuels the desire of die-hard bargain hunters.
At a typical Boxing Day sale in a large Canadian mall, it’s not uncommon to see women changing in the aisles of clothing stores while scores of other bargain hunters anxiously queue up in the mall’s corridors waiting for their turn to rifle through the discounted merchandise. These throngs of shoppers also cause major congestion in parking lots, making it fairly easy to spend hours just trying to exit a shopping centre. On a personal note, the longest I’ve ever spent trying to leave a mall parking lot on Boxing Day was 2.5 maddening hours. Not fun.
While Boxing Day sales used to be restricted to the 26th, some retailers are now referring to the shopping marathon as “Boxing Week.” According to some sources, Boxing Day is the highest revenue day of the year for many retailers so it’s not surprising that they’ve opted to extend the buying extravaganza.
If you’ll be visiting a Canadian mall for the first time this Boxing Day, here are a few tips to help you survive the frenzy:
- Bring food and water. Seriously.
- If you plan to buy a new wardrobe, be sure to dress in a way that allows you to try items on over your outfit. You’ll never get anywhere near a changing room, so be prepared to try stuff on wherever you stand.
- Walk or take public transit to the mall. And if you can’t do that, make sure your gas tank is full because you’re in for a long wait in the parking lot.
- Forget trying to return any of the crappy gifts you received for Christmas. Retailers usually don’t allow returns until a few days after Boxing Day.
- Most stores offer Boxing Day deals online, so save yourself the hassle and buy what you want from the comfort of home.
If you’ll be braving the mall today, good luck and happy bargain hunting! As for me, I started celebrating Boxing Day online at midnight on the 24th 😉
* Check out Time’s “A Brief History of Boxing Day” for a summary of Boxing Day’s disputed origins