How to Survive Boxing Day in a Video Game Store



If you've ever ventured out on December 26, you've probably seen lines of eager shoppers, coffee in hand, eyeing the double doors of the store with a kind of militant zeal. The frenzy as the opening hour strikes and customers head briskly toward aisles laden with discounted merchandise. The occasional pushing and shoving as everyone evaluates the number of boxes on the shelf and the number of hands reaching for them.

It's an unfortunate reality for some, but an irresistible opportunity for others. Video game stores in particular are always full of avid customers looking for great deals on entertainment products. Consoles, headsets, controllers, and even recently released games have their prices slashed on Boxing Day, and everyone wants in. If you're new to the gaming world, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the multitude of products on display. Here are some helpful tips to make your shopping more effective next holiday season:

Check out the deals online ahead of time.

There's nothing worse than braving gigantic crowds and finding out that the promotions this year just aren't doing it for you. Come prepared. A quick survey of various store websites will give you an idea of the most popular deals. If necessary, print out pages from the websites you visited; they will usually have item numbers that can help the staff find the exact model you want.

Bring any and all gift cards.

If you're lucky enough to have received gift cards for Christmas, bring them all. Don't just bring an EB Games card with you and expect to find everything you need. Did someone offer you a Microplay gift card? Definitely take it with you. Lesser known stores don't sell out as fast, so they're often worth the detour. While you're at it, check your wallet for old gift cards, especially those that work for all the boutiques in the mall.

If you are purchasing a video game product for a friend or family member, be sure you know specifically what to get.

Asking for ''Assassin's Creed'' is about as unhelpful as is gets. You'll only use up the employee's time as he or she tries to figure out which game in the series you are referring to and which version you need. Meanwhile, that employee can't help customers who are ready to check out and are probably sighing loudly at your confusion.

Question the person you are running the errand for carefully. Is it the latest Assassin's Creed? Which console should you buy it on? Is there a specific edition of the game that's more desirable? Look up a picture of the box, that way you can still find it at the store if you forget the full title when you get there.

Compare prices on new and used games.

Some game stores sell both used and new copies of games, and whereas used copies are usually cheaper, Boxing Day is one of those exceptions when you might actually pay less for a new copy. Rebates on new games are offered by publishers and used prices are determined by the store chain, so these kinds of incongruities can definitely happen. Don't automatically head to the used section convinced that that's where the low prices are.

Check the box for any restrictions on games you buy.

Does the box say "Internet connection required"? Then you can bet it's an online-only game that's not suited for gamers with unstable internet connections. Does it say "Storage required"? Then you should have a hard drive in your Xbox 360, not just a USB key.

Remember to check for controller compatibility as well. If you're looking to buy Just Dance for Wii U, the box will mention it can only be played using a Wiimote controller. Music, rhythm, or toy-based games usually require additional peripherals as well. While employees will usually ask you these questions at checkout, it pays to be careful on Boxing Day, when management doesn't want transactions to take more than a few minutes.

If you begin shopping in the afternoon or evening, expect some things to have run out.

Unfortunately, most of the heavily discounted products are only available in limited quantities. Most large stores advertise "door crashers," or very aggressive deals that are only meant to attract customers. As you might expect, these kinds of deals don't last very long. If you're unsure about your local store's stock, feel free to give them a call a day or two in advance. Employees can usually give you a sense of how early you should come in to grab a particular item.

Don't demand that products be put aside for you.

Most stores won't reserve anything for you on Boxing Day and will operate under a first come, first serve basis. After all, it's only fair that those who line up outside get first pick on the discounted merchandise. Respecting this procedure will prevent potential disagreements with employees who were strictly told that they're not allowed to take reservations.

If you are making large purchases with a credit card, have your ID ready.

To prevent fraud, most stores will require ID for transactions amounting to several hundred dollars. This is especially likely if you are buying one or more game consoles. The cashier will usually want to compare your credit card with your driver's license or Medicare card, so be sure to bring them with you.

Take a minute to ask about the warranty on your purchases.

Some items, like game consoles, can't be returned at the store. The warranty is offered by Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo, and you'll have to reach out to customer service for any repairs. Knowing this ahead of time saves you the trouble of going back to the store (especially when it's this busy) and being told the above.

Big-box stores and small boutiques have different return policies on games and accessories. If they aren't displayed at the cash, the employee handling your transaction will be happy to explain to you the conditions for refunds or exchanges.

Finally, be polite to the staff.

Shopping on Boxing Day is crazy, but it's even more hectic for those on the other side of the counter. Remember that the people who are answering your rapid-fire questions are working the busiest month of the year. They're human beings who probably celebrated over the holidays, so chances are they're running low on sleep. Some may not even earn commission for the extra effort they are putting in.

The employees may look like they're doing the same, everyday job, but Boxing Day requires extra energy; between making sure everyone knows where to find things, coming in early to set up promotional material, and keeping an eye out for theft and fraud, they're almost always doing more than one thing at a time.

Plus, they have to deal with customers who haven't read these guidelines. That's worth a smile, at the very least.


This is very important information anyone boxing day shopping needs to have!! Great comic pictures!

Great guide, especially that you pointed out the online shopping part; a lot of shopping is done online now anyways since people are getting fed up of putting up with long lines and crammed shopping malls.

One more important point that's worth mentioning for Boxing Day or Black Friday: if you're contemplating buying something, don't! Buy it! If it doesn't fit or isn't the right product, for any reason, most stores accept returns after the holidays.

And if you're buying something that has a limited in-store quantity, always buy two (if you can afford it) even if you need one. All you need is to bring it home and it's defective and there's no more left in stock to replace it (i.e.: new iPhone). Learned that the hard way!

Nice guide, very thorough. Even though most of these things are applicable for any shopping, you mentioned important things that are specific to game stores.

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