We understand Boxing Day can be quite chaotic especially when you start to think about the large crowds, long lines and the amount of money exchanging hands. A recent survey by RetailMeNot.ca showed that Canadians could spend as much as $600 this year on Boxing Day and New Years. When asked how in-store Boxing Day shopping made Canadians feel, it isn’t surprising to hear 77% said “overwhelming”.

To help with that overwhelming feeling, we’ve put together a few tips to help you prepare for Boxing Day shopping and make the best of your time, money and sanity!

Create a game plan

Boxing Day can be full of temptations and impulse buying. Setting a game plan in advance will ensure you shop with intention and help you avoid those unnecessary purchase.

Prior to shopping, make a list of the things you are wanting to buy. Prioritize the list and identify want vs need purchases. Are all the items on your list an absolute must-need?  

Next part of your plan should be to set a budget prior to Boxing Day shopping. Without one, you can easily spend more than you’re comfortable with causing buyer’s remorse and stress later on. Use this budget to re-evaluate your list and determine if there are any items you could reconsider purchasing or that you can purchase at a later date.

Do your research

Research before venturing out for the day, taking a look at flyers, going online or even using apps such as Flipp to compare item prices at different stores. Write down the stores you plan on visiting to buy the items on your list. Use this list to map out your route to help save travel time and gas! Be sure to only stop at places on your list.

Another thing to look for when researching is week-long Boxing Day sales. Many retailers now extend their Boxing Day sales for the length of the week to reduce a bit of shopping chaos. Instead of going out into the crowds all in one day, are there any items you can purchase throughout the week that allow you to still get the sale price? This can also help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by not trying to make your purchases all in one day

Consider Online Shopping

Many retailers will also have Boxing Day sales through their online sites, some even starting a few days before or right at 12:01 a.m. Boxing Day. The only downside to online shopping is having to wait for the item to ship. Depending on the item, is it an absolute must that you need the item right that second or can you wait a few days until it arrives in the mailbox?

If online shopping, be cautious of shipping and exchange rates. Sometimes the costs can outweigh the convenience of shopping online and there may be a few items that are better off you going to the store for.

Leave Your Credit Cards at Home

A simple way to not overspend on Boxing Day is to leave your credit cards at home. Only use cash or debit for Boxing Day purchases to help eliminate the temptation of buying something that’s not on your list.

If using cash, only bring as much as your budget. Once the cash is gone, you know it’s time to stop shopping. If using debit, keep track of your purchases by writing and totaling your amounts on a piece of paper. Once you’ve hit your limit, it’s time to go home.

Avoid Group Shopping

Shopping with friends can be fun, but creates opportunities for temptation. When you’re with a group, you tend to go into stores that you wouldn’t necessarily have gone into if you were by yourself which often leads to an unnecessary purchase. If you didn’t plan on going into that store originally, you most likely didn’t know that item existed – is it really something you need to buy?

Consider shopping alone or with one person. If partnering up, make a game plan together. Also, ask your friend to help you from impulse buying by having them look at your items before purchasing and providing their opinion. 

If you do go into a store that you weren’t originally planning to, avoid impulse buying temptations and stick to the items on your list. Think about it… you weren’t planning to go to that store and the item you didn’t know existed nor was on your list. Just because you see the item now, is it really something you need to buy?

Avoid Spending to Save

We all know the deals on Boxing Day can be great but beware of the deals that make you spend more to save. A great example of this is the ‘Buy One Item, Get Another 50% Off’ deal. Yes, the second item is 50% off, but if you were only planning to purchase one in the first place, you now are paying 50% over your budget for the second item. Many stores also put the discount on the lowest priced item, which also can cause for you to spend more than you were planning.

When looking for deals, be sure to read the fine print, sign and prices carefully. Also, become familiar with the store's return policy so that if you decide you no longer want it, you are able to return it.

When it comes to a successful Boxing Day shopping haul, patience and comfortable shoes will be the most important thing. Paired with the tips above, you’ll also eliminate spending stress and hours spent in stores and lines. And what a better way to spend the time you saved than by watching Team Canada play in the World Junior Hockey Championship. Go Canada Go!

Happy shopping!