I hate Boxing Day shopping for, oh, so many reasons: good bargains are few and far between, and in order to have a shot at getting them you have to brave hordes of bad drivers, rude shoppers and indifferent-to-antagonistic sales personnel. No thanks! I remember, vaguely, a past when Boxing Day was a bona fide shopping event, from which a dedicated shopper could emerge victorious with “loot” worth envying. I guess the specter of this distant past still lives on for my fellow Edmontonians, judging by the traffic volume buzzing around South Common yesterday … but it’s a mirage, I tell you! First of all, there are as good – and better – sales pretty much all year round. In fact, a lot of stores this year headed into the Christmas season with massive sales banners purporting to offer big discounts. Second, most of the stores have given up the pretense and are now openly calling it “Boxing Day Week”; sure, by Wednesday or Thursday the selection might be a little more picked over, but at least you’ll be able to shop in peace, without having had to run a gauntlet in the parking lot first. Third, in some (but not all) cases, the best deals for seasonal merchandise happen in January when retailers are really motivated to move old stock to make room for spring/summer stuff. If I were given to speculate, I would say that this will depend, to some extent at least, on how successful Boxing Day turns out to be, for retailers, in achieving the same goal. So, in a roundabout way, shopping during the holidays might be counter-productive for bargain-hunters.
This year, I promised myself not to get lured in by the promise of Boxing Day shopping. No, this year, I was going to stay home with a good book and Christmas dinner leftovers, and enjoy some much-needed rest. Of course, it didn’t quite work out that way. At the last minute, I caved in; temptation came in the form of a Holt Renfrew email advertising their Boxing Day sale – up to 70% off designer clothing and accessories, plus an extra 10% off between 7-10 a.m. on December 26. I’ve had my eye on a bag at Holt for a while now; while not on sale as of December 23, my heart jumped at the possibility that it might – just might – be part of the Boxing Day sale. This is how they get me, folks, every time – hope springs eternal. Guess where I was at 8:30 yesterday morning? Staring at the (already picked-over) sales table in the handbag department at Holt, wondering how I got suckered – again. If there were deals to be had, I had already missed them … at least in the accessories department. My bag was nowhere in sight. Upstairs, the sales racks of women’s clothing were more numerous (and not yet scavenged) but a quick glimpse at a few favourite designers told me that the deals were generally more likely to be in the 40-50% off range, not higher. My shopping spirit already deflated, I didn’t linger long. Since I had already gone to the trouble of making my way downtown (and dragging my poor husband in tow), I decided to take a quick look through the rest of the downtown mall to get a measure of the Boxing Day sales on offer elsewhere. Most of the stores were still prepping, and not open yet, but the banners were informative. Practically everywhere, the big discounts were qualified with language like “up to” and “on selected styles” or “on already reduced merchandise”. In other words, business as usual.
My only other pit stop yesterday happened inadvertently. My husband and I decided to console ourselves with a nice brunch. We should have known better, but given its proximity to our house, we decided to pick a restaurant in South Common. This would not have been a bad choice in and of itself, except that it required us to navigate through South Common to arrive at our destination – a hair raising proposition already at 11 a.m. Since we got there a few minutes before the restaurant opened, I suggested we make a quick stop at the nearby La Senza store, as I happened to be in dire (actual) need of a new bra. Big mistake. It took about half an hour to drive approximately half a kilometer, park, wait in line at the changing room and the cashier, and then drive back – and we got lucky with the parking! That wasn’t the end of it, either. Once I got back home, I quickly realized that the store had forgotten to remove the security doodad from my bra … which meant having to go back to South Common. So, in the end, my Boxing Day loot consisted of one bra, on which I saved about $19 in exchange for one hour of my (and my husband’s) time.