Cash registers have rung hot as thousands of Australians braved the shops on Boxing Day to snap up a bargain after a year compounded by a cost-of-living crisis.
Retail experts said it wasn’t in spite of cost-of-living pressure that people planned to spend big on Boxing Day, but because of it.
The Australian Retailers Association estimated Australians would splurge $1.25 billion on “unprecedented” deals with shoppers hoping to stretch their dollar further during discounts and sales.
The entire sales period from Boxing Day to January 15 is expected to bring in $23.9 billion, up 1.6 per cent on last year.
While modest, the projected spending growth is encouraging for retailers given the slowdown in discretionary spending.
“Boxing Day is the grand final of Australia’s favourite sport, shopping,” Association boss Paul Zahra said.
Australia’s biggest bank expected almost one in two people to participate in the sales, spending an estimated $4.6 billion in total.
While more are planning to shop the Boxing Day sales than in previous years, people are intending to spend less, Commonwealth Bank personal finance expert Jess Irvine said.
The average planned spend this year is $475.70 compared with $483.20 in 2022 and $557.05 in 2021.
The driving demographic involved in Boxing Day shopping is the group aged 39 and under, reflecting data from a recent CommBank IQ cost of living report which found younger Australians are feeling the most pain from rising prices.
“Aussie household budgets are being squeezed on multiple fronts, so it is not surprising that individual shoppers are tightening their belts,” Ms Irvine said.
The nation’s two major department stores were prepared for one of the biggest days on the shopping calendar.
David Jones anticipates up to one million customers through its doors and online during the week-long bargain period across all departments.
For those looking for a change of scenery, Qantas and subsidiary Jetstar are offering discounted one-way fares on almost every domestic and some international routes in the second half of 2024.
As shoppers transition from Christmas, so do their spending behaviours, Mr Zahra said.
“In the lead up to Christmas, shoppers are focused on buying gifts for their family and loved ones,” he said.
“Post-Christmas, Australians typically turn their minds to purchases for themselves and their household, focused on snagging a bargain.”
Aussies who face buyer’s remorse during the rush or want to return unwanted gifts are being warned by NSW Fair Trading to know their rights.
If a product is not of acceptable quality, does not match the description or is not fit for purpose, customers may be entitled to a repair, replacement or refund under consumer law.
Customers have the same legal refund rights on sale items as they would have on full-price products unless they were informed of a fault before the purchase.
“Retailers have a responsibility to ensure their products meet required standards but consumers also need to do their homework before they buy or they might get caught out,” Fair Trading Commissioner John Tansey said.