Use up gift cards, shop big sales and fast-track returns.
Customer service desks will be packed on the day after Christmas with consumers requesting refunds and exchanges, but store aisles will be packed with something else — deals.
Here’s why you should venture out on Dec. 26, and how to emerge with a bargain instead of a headache.
Seasonal staples will be on sale
After-Christmas shopping used to be mostly about returns and exchanges, according to Howard Forman, a marketing professor at California State University, Fullerton. Now, he says, good deals are driving people to the stores as well.
There are certain items that are discounted on the day after Christmas, and that includes anything seasonal, Forman says. Expect to save money on Christmas decorations, winter clothing, accessories like slippers and anything else that didn’t sell during the holiday season.
Gift cards are like free money
Shoppers also come out on Dec. 26 to cash in the gift cards they received. “They get the gift card or gift certificate on Christmas, so the day after, they get to take advantage of it by going to the retailers who are having these great sales,” Forman says.
It’s actually in your best interest to spend your gift card immediately after Christmas, for at least two reasons, says Shelley Hunter, the gift card expert for GiftCards.com. First, you’ll be less likely to forget about it or neglect to redeem it.
If you are a savvy shopper, you can extend the value of that gift card from whatever the person gave you to get a little bit more with it.Shelley Hunter, gift card expert for GiftCards.com
Second, you can get more mileage out of your gift card during after-Christmas sales, thanks to the deals we mentioned earlier. Gift cards are stackable with sales and coupons. If you use your gift card during a sale, you can get more items for the same amount of money.
“If you are a savvy shopper, you can extend the value of that gift card from whatever the person gave you to get a little bit more with it,” Hunter says.
And they’ll be on sale, too
The day after Christmas is a good time to spend gift cards, but Hunter says it’s also an ideal time to buy them, especially at restaurants. Many chains are offering a free coupon with purchase of a gift card, and most promotions last through the end of the year.
For instance, Red Lobster is hosting a Give a Gift, Get a Gift promotion through Dec. 31. You’ll get a bonus card (good for a free appetizer or $10 coupon) when you buy a $50 gift card. Bonus cards can be redeemed Jan. 1 through Jan. 28.
Technology makes returns easier
And if your main reason for venturing out on the day after Christmas is to make a return, lean on technology to get most of the work done at home before you get to the store. For instance, with Walmart’s Mobile Express returns, you can initiate a return on the store’s app for items shipped and sold by Walmart.com (some restrictions apply). Then, fast-track through the line when you arrive at the store.
Another helpful tool is Slice, a free app that tracks all of your online purchases. It captures receipts from your email inbox and organizes them so you can quickly access the one you need when you want to make a return.