The mid-year toy sales frenzy is kicking off for another year, with Australia's major shopping retailers all offering big discounts on various kiddie products. If you’re a parent (or have friends who are parents), this is the ideal time to do your Christmas shopping. This guide covers all of the bargain-hunting essentials; including online catalogues, sale duration, layby conditions and some general shopping tips to maximise your savings.
Big W "Total Toy Domination" Sale
Big W's toy sale is on now and ends 9 July. You can check out the best deals via Big W's online catalogue. (Hard copies of all of these catalogues should also be making their way to your letterbox, if they haven't appeared already.)
Big W is accepting deposit-free laybys for orders of $50 and over. A $2 administration fee applies. Layby items can be paid off over a period of up to 16 weeks, with guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas. You can also track your order and manage your payment schedule via the Big W's online store. Customers can choose between weekly, fortnightly or monthly instalments which will be automatically deducted from your credit card.
To ensure Christmas delivery, payment needs to be finalised by no later than October 9. All orders will be available for collection from 3 November or you can nominate to have it delivered between 3 November and 1 December.
Target "Greatest Toy Sale On Earth" Sale
Target's toy sale starts from 18 July online and 23 July in store. The sale end on 6 August. Target hasn't released its full toy sale catelogue yet, but you can check out some hand-picked highlights on Target's website. Target is also offering "exclusive first access" to customers who sign up to its newsletter. Target has not announced any special layby conditions but you can expect it to fall roughly in line with the other major retailers.
Kmart "Toy Takeover" Sale
Kmart's toy sale is on now and ends 20 July. Click here to see the online catelogue.
Products can only put on layby in store; not online. A minimum transaction of $40 and a 10 per cent deposit is required, plus a $3 service fee. Customers must also make regular fortnightly payments. For deliveries during the Christmas period, Kmart recommends that you allow for 14 working days.
Myer Toy Sale
Myer's mid-year toy sale is on now and ends 20 July. Click here to see the online catalogue.
Layby is not available for purchases made on the website. "However for some Big and Bulky items a deposit may be required with full payment taken when your Order is ready for collection," explains Myer.
Toys R Us Holiday Sale
The Toys R Us sale is on now and ends 15 July. Click here to see the online catalogue.
Toys R Us usually charges a $7.50 layby fee, but this is being waived between 25 Wednesday 2 and 15 July, 2014. A 10 deposit and monthly fee of $2.90 still applies. Minimum spend is $200.
As we've noted in the past, the most important thing to remember about the toy sale frenzy is that not everything is actually on sale. If your daughter has her heart set on the latest Monster High doll, make sure to check the RRP and do some comparison shopping.
As you'd expect, many of the more popular, in-demand toys won't be heavily discounted as the retailers know they'll be able to sell them at full price. That said, most major retailers will be happy to price match with other brick-and-mortar stores, so it pays (literally) to do your research.
Online shopping is a good way to avoid the hustle-and-bustle during the shopping frenzy. If you combine with home delivery, it also eliminates the hassle of trying to hide presents in the lead-up to Christmas. However, this also carries the risk that your delivery won't come in time. A couple of years ago, Big W was left red-faced when some online orders got delayed just weeks before Christmas -- in other words, use at your own risk.
If you don't trust delivery and prefer to pick up the toys yourself, you can still use the online store to 'Click & Collect' the toys you're after. This will ensure that the product is there when you arrive in store and also saves you the trouble of lugging it to the counter.
It's never a bad idea to check prices from international retailers like Amazon and the Book Depository: often you'll come out ahead even after factoring in the shipping costs and handling fees. Just be mindful that you could be in for a lengthy wait before it shows up on your doorstep.
Finally, it's worth noting that kids' can be fickle creatures: today's must-have fad could be a forgotten dud by the time Christmas rolls around. At the very least, you should keep a portion of your Christmas shopping budget free until mid-December; just in case their are any sudden additions to their wish list.
You can see some of the hottest toys from last year's sale in the video below. Most of these items are now being sold at reduced prices:
What bargains are you eyeing at this year's toy sale? Or would you rather wait until December for the inevitable last-minute sales? Tell us in the comments.