Downloadable photos

Commonwealth Bank has today released new consumer research1 revealing nearly one in two people (49 per cent of Australians) had made plans to shop the Boxing Day sales this year. This is up from 42 per cent from 2022 and 40 per cent in 2021. 

CBA’s personal finance expert, Jess Irvine, said cost of living pressures were driving a significant change in shopping behaviour among Australians.

“Aussies are becoming much more price sensitive and responding to the higher cost of living by looking for discounts and deals,” Ms Irvine said. 

The driving demographic who plan to shop on Boxing Day are those aged 39 and under, reflecting recent data from last month’s CommBank IQ cost of living report, which found younger Australians are feeling the most pain from rising prices.

CBA Chief Economist, Stephen Halmarick said, “The increase we've seen in spending at discount and variety stores in November is partly explained by Christmas and holiday shopping with discretionary spend up 1.9 per cent.

“However, people are also using the sales to stock up on essentials – with essential spending edging up 0.3 per cent. Essential spending usually falls after the “gift giving” period. However given consumers are clearly seeking sales bargains for both essential and discretionary items, Boxing Day sales could also see a similar trend with a larger share of essential spending” Mr Halmarick said.

“This year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales were more prominent than ever, but the Boxing Day sales remain an important date on the Australian shopping calendar,” said Ms Irvine.

“However, it’s possible the super-sized nature of this year’s Black Friday offers will have displaced the intentions of some to shop after Christmas.”

While more people are planning to shop the Boxing Day sales than in previous years, people are planning to spend less.

The average planned spend this year is $475.70, totalling $4.6bn across Boxing Day sales nationally. This compares to a planned average spend of $483.20 in 2022 and $557.05 in 2021.

Ms Irvine said: “Aussie household budgets are being squeezed on multiple fronts, so it is not surprising that individual shoppers are tightening their belts. While most economists do not expect the Reserve Bank to raise interest rates much further, the cumulative effect of rising costs so far is being felt.”

However some said they are planning to spend big, including spending more than $500 during the sales.

According to the research, the characteristics of those most likely to shop the sales and ‘spend big’ ($500+) were more likely to be males, to be aged 30-39 and to live with children.

Jess’s tips for shopping the sales

“For anyone planning to use Boxing Day as an opportunity to bag a bargain, it is important to have a clear plan in advance of which items you plan to purchase. Write a list and stick to it to limit impulse purchases” said Ms Irvine.

“A good rule of thumb is that if the first time it occurs to you to purchase something is during a sale period, you probably don’t need it.

“If you are stocking up, make sure to do your research and check first for any cashback offers that may be available for that retailer. There are many independent cashback apps these days and customers eligible for the bank’s new recognition program, CommBank Yello, have access to a wide range of cashback offers from major retailers.”

CommBank Yello features more than 175 different offers from more than 75 different partners such as THE ICONIC and Coles.

During the recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale period, more than 100,000 offers were activated2 by eligible customers.

“Finally, stay scam aware when shopping, as scammers are known to be more active during sales periods. Always remember to remain cautious, especially at this busy time of year, and stop, check and reject any suspicious websites or text messages,” Ms Irvine added.

1 The survey was conducted by the House of Brand Group, with fieldwork conducted between 14 and 15 September 2023, amongst a sample of n=1,003 nationally representative respondents 18+, with quotas set on age, gender and location.

2 Activations is where a customer has clicked on an offer to get a voucher code or indicated they are going to use it.

Go to CBA Newsroom for the latest news and announcements from Commonwealth Bank.