We've gathered together all of the best deals in the UK and will continue updating this article throughout the Boxing Day sale and January sale season so you can find all the best bargains without the dross.
Many retailers started their post-Christmas sales four days before Christmas, their January sales on Boxing Day and, quite probably, their summer specials on the first of January.
Retailers’ newsletters are often rubbish, but at this time of year they can be a great way of discovering lightning deals and special sales. You can always unsubscribe again in January.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day should be a time for friends, family and relaxing (drinking) so here's our Boxing Day deal roundup which we'll be updating when Boxing Day hits.
While many traditional retailers aren’t starting their sales until the 26th (Debenhams, Selfridges, House of Fraser) or the 27th, others won’t wait: last year many retailers kicked off their sales on the 21st or 22nd of December, while Amazon is already plugging what it calls Boxing Day Deals Week and offering various lightning deals across departments - check out this list of deals, followed by links to key retailer sales sites.
Don’t assume everything is a bargain. In the run-up to Black Friday we spotted some retailers increasing prices so they could offer massive discounts on the big day, and in 2013 consumer groups warned UK shoppers about Boxing Day “pseudo-sales” - that is, sales where items were more expensive than they’d been in the previous weeks.
The law says that sale items must have been sold at full price for 28 consecutive days during the last six months - so it’s fine for a shop to put the price into orbit for a month and then go back to the original price claiming a massive discount (the same thing happens with wine!). It’s a good example of how retailers can follow the letter of the law but not the spirit. That’s not the only trick.
Sales are a tried and tested way of getting rid of hard-to-shift stock, obsolete products and in some cases, goods that have been bought in specifically so that they can be sold in the sale. If you’re looking for something specific it’s a good idea to do your homework on models and prices.
Cynics would suggest that doorbusters, the unbelievably huge discounts you see in adverts, are deliberately limited so that the retailer can get footage of fighting customers on the evening news without having to lose too much money.
We’ll give retailers the benefit of the doubt, but we’d point out that the smallest words on the ads - “up to” - are the ones telling you that you won’t be getting 70% off anything you might actually want to buy unless you’re in the queue at 7am - and even then, the discounts might not be as big as you might hope. There are always exceptions, but the typical Boxing Day sales discount is between 20% and 30%.
If goods are faulty, you don’t need a receipt to get your money back: any proof of purchase, such as a bank statement, is fine. You have the same consumer rights with sale items as you do with any other purchase unless the reduction is because of a flaw that you’ve been told about - a tear in fabric, perhaps, or a dent in a laptop’s lid.
If you’re buying online, you’re covered by the distance selling regulations too: in addition to covering you for faulty items, they also enable you to return items for any reason within two weeks, although you’ll have to pay the return postage yourself.
Be very wary when buying from outside the EU: most consumer protection regulation only covers you if the retailer is based in the UK or Europe, and it doesn’t cover private sellers - so many eBay purchases aren’t covered.