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How to bag an electronics bargain on Boxing Day

On Boxing Day, the big electronic chain stores are great for getting what you know you want, and for good deals on extras that you may not have otherwise considered.

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

If Boxing Day is the mother of all shopping days, then it's easy to see why you might have held out until now to get the tech gadgets you've been lusting over. But where do you go to get them on such a crazy day, and how do you find the best deal?

Big-box retailers are usually the first to come to mind because they advertise so heavily leading up to the big day. Part of the reason is to move old inventory to make room for newer items, but the other is for residual sales. One thing the likes of Future Shop, Best Buy, London Drugs and Visions Electronics often do on big sales is bundling. Buy a digital camera at a discount and get a memory card for a great price, too. Buy a video game console and get a couple of games for the price of one. A new smartphone might need a new case or hands-free device.

The examples are endless, but the effect is that you feel like you're getting more value for your money. In some cases, the main purchase actually necessitates buying something extra, like a memory card to store photos and games to play on consoles.

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Out of everything, the most popular big ticket item on Boxing Day is probably a TV. With prices slashed as much as 40 to 50 per cent on certain models, it's an alluring proposition. Knowing which model is the best for you requires some homework on your end (or just borrow from other folks, for instance check this RedFlagDeals forum listing TV sales). With the madness of Boxing Day, don't rely on getting great help from a sales rep. You would if you went to a more specialized independent retailer, but not at a big-box store flooded with consumers, so don't expect overly nuanced analysis of your needs. The big chains are great for getting what you know you want, and for good deals on extras that you may not have otherwise considered.

The way annual product cycles work in consumer electronics, TVs, Blu-ray players, cameras, computers, tablets and video games tend to be the biggest movers around this time of year, partly because of how many come to market in the fall and how they're priced. Note that the newest computers usually don't get major reductions because the margins aren't high on them to begin with. Still, you may be able to score an external hard drive or software at a greatly reduced price, making the initial purchase more cost-effective.

Shopping online for all things tech is a good option, too, since Web retailers offer sales with similar reductions. Sometimes their sales go even longer, and include bundles and other rebates as well. Check Amazon, NCIX, Newegg and others like them who ship quickly within Canada, and you may be pleasantly surprised. You just have to be patient in actually receiving the item.

Normally, bringing in evidence of a lower price online to a brick-and-mortar store might be enough to secure a better deal and get the immediate payoff – better known as "price protection" – but don't bet on that happening on Boxing Day. The big-box retailers explicitly state they won't do it as part of their respective policies. This also seems to apply to instances where consumers come in on regular shopping days wielding a competitor's specific Boxing Day price promotion. In other words, the price tag you see that day is what you'll pay.

Whatever gadget or gizmo you plan to purchase this week may or may not be exactly what you had in mind. Approach it like you would any other gadget hunt and you likely won't go home feeling buyer's remorse.

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