The cheapest time to buy Christmas toys


Parents stuck in checkout queues or ruefully circling shopping centre carparks today will once more be asking the Big Question: Why doesn't Santa remember to stock up when the end-of-financial-year toy sales are on?

Spoiler Alert: Put a circle around July and October on your calendars now and get ready to save Christmas 2021.

Those months - counter-intuitively - are supposed to be when the big toy retailers put on bumper sales to justify the smug look on the faces of super-organised Christmas shoppers as they walk past we late-December, panic buying dummies.

Saved By Michelle put the legend of titanic mid-year toy sales savings bonanzas to the test and "getting in early" is actually a mixed bag.

Myer's Toy Sale ran late June and early July but a price comparison of a random selection of toys shows - for a starter - that certain ranges have disappeared off the shelves.

The ones in those same spots mostly seem to sport pre-sale prices, with some still bearing a reduced offer (for example the Fisher-Price maracas are still five bucks cheaper than the recommended retail price).

But some items are cheaper now than six months ago.

Indi Welman from the Gold Coast is looking forward to what Santa brings this year. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Indi Welman from the Gold Coast is looking forward to what Santa brings this year. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Take the Duplo Number Train, for example, and the LEGO City Diving Yacht - both at $23.99 during the sale - are now on-special for $20 a piece.

Big W's annual Toy Sale made the headlines last June when early morning shoppers arced up at having a four-hour wait in the store's online queue.

It also allowed lay-by for Christmas for online shoppers - a bonus previously reserved for those who purchased in-store.

But was it worth it?

A random price comparison of a selection featured in the June Toy Mania Sale catalogue reveals the touted "specials" were not very remarkable at all.

The Monopoly Speed Edition - an on-sale buy at $25 - the other day was found as a clearance item for a mere $17; while The Wiggles' Emma Ballet Doll is clearing out now for $19, but last June it cost $34, a price which was even then a saving of $15.

The ask on some items in our survey hasn't changed at all. Take the board game, Operation, for example. It's still $25, and the Barbie Chelsea XCamper is still stuck with a $39 price tag.

Bizarrely, the "hot buys" back then really were. For example, Monopoly Fortnite - just $19 six months ago, is now $39 - and the Nerf-N-Strike Elite - half-price in June - is now $129.

QUT School of Business marketing guru, Gary Mortimer, explains that the specials in June and July arise when retailers clear out old inventory to make way for updated ranges of toys.

He says October sales were traditionally influenced by lay-bys.

"Lay-bys were traditionally for 12 weeks, so if you launched your sale in October, that gave shoppers 12 weeks to pay off those large investments in Christmas presents.

"That has shifted a little bit because of the 'buy-now-pay-later' schemes, so we tend to see less toy sales around October as consumers move toward the 'Clink Frenzy' and 'Black Friday' sales in November. "

Taylor Blackburn, personal finance specialist at Finder, says the holiday season can be a great time to nab yourself a deal on toys.

"It pays to think ahead. Pre-purchasing gifts during sale periods will help you save in the year ahead," Taylor told Saved By Michelle.

"There are a few toy sales just before Christmas, so if you've left your present buying a little late this year, you could score a discount.

"But if you can hold off buying toys until the post-Christmas sales, you'll see big discounts.

"Retailers often mark products as 'reduced to clear', so the longer you wait after Boxing Day, the better the deals get.

"Be careful if you are buying presents in advance. Toys do go 'in' and 'out' of fashion and 'what's hot' during the Boxing Day sales, might be old news in a few months time.

"And, if your child's birthday is in the first half of the year, take advantage of the Christmas period sales, but if it falls in the later months, consider the end-of-financial-year sales.

Originally published as The cheapest time to buy Christmas toys