How To Really Save Money During The July Toy Sales

July is the month when major chain store retailers hold their annual toy sales, hoping to convince parents they will save a fortune by doing their Christmas shopping almost six months in advance. Just how much can you really save with this strategy?

The July toy sales are big business for major stores (and a neat way to convince people to spend money several months out from Christmas, thus preventing the entire year from being reliant on December sales). Each produces a massive catalogue, neatly sorted into categories, and offers lay-by facilities so you can acquire the presents and not have to keep them hidden from the kids for months.

The toy sale at both Kmart (complete with 86-page catalogue) and Big W (132-page catalogue and even a dedicated iPhone app) runs from June 30 to July 13. Target is bucking the trend, and its sale (with a 72-page catalogue) runs three weeks later, starting on July 21.

This year, Big W has also allowed advance online orders from its catalogue ahead of the launch date. That facility has clearly proved popular, with the site yesterday prominently displaying an apology for the fact that access was slow:

On the whole, there's a lot to be said for planning and buying Christmas gifts (and other presents) well in advance, rather than leaving everything until the month before. However, there's a few things you should bear in mind:

  • Not everything in the catalogues is on special. There's a tendency to assume that everything in these events is a bargain, but many of the items listed are the same price that they sell for through those stores normally. That doesn't mean that they are terrible value — but it does mean that you don't have to fight through the crowds on opening day to grab them.
  • Prices can be cheaper at other times. In the current catalogue, Kmart has a Nintendo 3DS bundle with two games for $328; Big W has a bundle with one game for $298; Those prices aren't much different to what was on offer at the launch of the 3DS, and you may well do better with judicious shopping around, especially if you want to pair the 3DS with a particular title. There's also a good likelihood with consoles that there will be additional specials between now and Christmas.
  • Make sure you've done some comparison shopping. The two points above boil down to the most important rule: if saving money is the name of the game, check around to make sure you're getting the best price. All of these stores would love it if you filled your trolley with items for the convenience of not having to go to multiple places. If that's your view, then go for it. If your aim is to save money, it's definitely worth doing some research in advance. It's also worth making a list and sticking to it, rather than throwing in lots of extras. If the item you want is out of stock, don't buy an alternative for the sake of it: do more research and shop again another time. December is a long way off.
  • You need to be confident in your kids' tastes. Six months is a long time in the playground. There's a risk in buying stuff a long way in advance if your kids are the kind whose enthusiasms change frequently and rapidly.

What specials have really grabbed you in this year's round of catalogues? Share your finds in the comments.


Comments

    Also, 6 months is a long time not to give your kids presents. I think the philosophy from the the retailers is that you'll relent, give your kids the gifts over the 6 months leading up to Christmas and then have to buy more at Christmas time anyway.

    i thought i was so clever last year, doing all my christmas shopping in July, clever untill my 9 year old changed his mine and i discovered what i bought was cheaper in November, think i will leave things to the last minute this year.

    "...if your kids are the kind whose enthusiasms change frequently and rapidly."

    This is the main reason I never do July toy shopping. Six mnths is a long time in kid time, and I know for my son, he is never interested in the same thing for that long. What he wants today is probably not going to be something he wants in a month or two (or even next week sometimes).

    Also, the sales encourage impulse buying. You end up getting something "just in case" or to fill a stocking just because its on special, but its not something your kid is going to love in the long run. I'd rather spend the extra money on something I know he will appreciate for a fair amount of time.

    I can't wait to have kids, they are going to be spoilt by being outdoors and enjoying life, more books and less toys, and more open conversations.

    Parents nowadays relent too easy, and yes wait for the Xmas day sales, always good bargains around, toys and everything else.

      MarioC I am also a not-yet parent, and share your views, but I get the feeling many parents would tell us 'easier said than done!'

      I keep in mind it's easy to criticise. Fun, too! (I do it far too often before catching myself).

      Also, I may sound like an old coot (nearly 30!) but gawwwd, the toys kids have nowadays!! Robots, computers, everything! I remember having a crappy remote control car that ran on 12 nicad batteries and lasted about 20 minutes. Eugh.

      Gizmodo, let us know when they invent an age-reversal ray? I wanna get my second childhood awwwwwn.

      HaHaHaHaHa, my God, do you even know a child, I'm sure you must have some idea what they are! Try being stuck inside for three days of freezing rainy weather with two hypo kids and say, no toys kids, lets just read books and have a open conversation. Lol I'll give you too lunch on the first day. Either you will be dead or the kids will be.

        It's easy if the kids are brought up correctly. I have one of each, aged 8 and 6, they love to read, we often sit and chat, they play sport, and do dancing every week. Give kids respect, they give it back to you too.
        Freezing weather? In Australia? Really??? Damn, you people need to toughen up. It's the middle of winter right now, and 18degrees outside....

      It will be a couple of years before you can have anything resembling a conversation with a child. It will be a couple more after that before they can read the simplest book on their own.

      You will be buying them toys before they can walk, talk or read.

    It pays to read layby conditions too. We fell in to the trap last year of not only laybying Christmas presents, but also a couple of things for our little monster's birthday in October. Unfortunately, we'd missed the part that said you can only collect items after X date. The extra birthday spend could've been avoided if we'd noticed the fine print. Mark it up as new parent mistake.

    The real traps have got to be things like books, games and dvds - by the time xmas comes along you'd really regret paying the prices "on special" in July.

    Great thing about layby is that you can often dump what you have put aside and retain the money paid as a store credit (effectively allowing you to swap for a different product later should you need)

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