|Selfridges London beauty hall on Boxing Day…I worked here. God help me.|
So apparently, nobody really knows the true origins of Boxing Day. Growing up, I guess I thought it was the day you boxed up all the crap you got for Christmas that you didn't want. Or alternatively, it's the day spent breaking down the boxes your presents came in, cutting yourself with a stanley knife and cursing as you wrestle them into the overstuffed recycling bin.
Then I grew up, started working in retail and realised Boxing Day was a day filled with fear, blood and discounted leather goods. Now, I love a bargain as much as the next person, but not enough to stand in the snow for 5 hours waiting for a store to open. Certainly not enough to beat the crap out of of someone for even dreaming they would get to the Gucci bag before me. There are people out there though, for whom the Boxing Day sales are an extreme sport. So if you're planning on seeking out a bargain this fine festive season, here are my tips for getting out unscathed.
1. Be not afraid
I've never seen Braveheart, but I imagine if Mel Gibson had struggled to find troops for his army, he could have just waited outside Selfridges at 2am on Boxing Day and recruited some terrifying fighters. When the doors are unlocked, people actually run in screaming and crying. Even the staff run for cover. Now I know why Justin Bieber is such a prize asshole, because this is what his life is like, being bombarded by shrieking females ALL the time. It'd be enough to make me leave my monkey at a German airport (no it wouldn't, I love monkeys, they are just like us but furry and more awesome).
If you think you've got what it takes to be there when those doors open, be warned you up are against professionals and people with no morals when it comes to 50% off Miu Miu. I had one woman ask me if she could skip the queue to buy her bag because she had a child with her. She seemed genuinely outraged when I replied in the negative. Oh yeah, it was fine to risk the child being trampled coming in, but she couldn't possibly wait in the somewhat orderly queue to pay. Mother of the year, right there. These are the people you're up against if you're gonna grab a bargain. So gird your loins, leave your manners at the door and get your elbows out.
2. Eyes on the prize
Remember your competition has been scoping out their dream purchase for weeks. They know what season it's from and they know what brands will go straight to 50%. If you want any hope of competing with them, you have to go in with a plan. Figure out what you want the most and RUN there first. Know how much are you willing to pay for it and exactly how much money you've got left on your credit card. Make sure you ask about the refund policy too, because when there's no refund on sale, buyers remorse is gonna be more painful than a post winter bikini wax.
3. Be polite to the staff
They have crawled out of their warm beds, probably hungover, to be here so that you can grab a bargain. They do not like you and they don't wish you had a Merry Christmas. Making friends with these resistant crankies at this point is like Boxing Day gold. They know exactly where the last pair of size 39 monochrome brogues are out of the back and if you piss them off, you will be missing out.
If you play your cards right, the value of a kind word here could get you exactly what you need. Don't snatch things from their arms, don't tell them to hurry up or complain about the wait, and for crying out loud do NOT ask for extra discount. Sincerely thank them for working on Boxing Day, tell them to take all the time they need since you know it's busy, and flash them your warmest smile when they make eye contact. Forget to do any of these things, you better hope nobody knows where your car is parked.
4. Pack like you're trekking through the Himalayas
I am talking water, snacks, portable mobile phone battery charger and possibly even a small hip flask of scotch. Layer your clothes for the inevitably sweaty conditions when the frenzy peaks. The fitting room on Boxing Day is stifling like a Moroccan summer and it would not pay you to pass out while you're holding onto that All Saints coat you just fought someone's Nanna for.
Comfortable shoes are the MOST important tool in your arsenal. Yes, you'll feel super special at 8am when everyone can see your boyfriend bought you Louboutins for Christmas, but when they're stepping over your crippled body 2 hours later to get the last McQueen scarf the joke will be on you.
Adult diapers are of course, optional.
Adult diapers are of course, optional.
5. Fortune favours the brave
Sometimes, you just get lucky. One year I was wandering through the fragrance department (probably in a state of extreme shock) and right there on the Calvin Klein gift sets was a Marcus Lupfer dress in my size, 50% off. It's kind of like The Secret for Boxing Day shopping, you go in with a completely zen attitude, believing the thing you most desire will fall into your lap at just the right time and Voila! New Year's Eve sorted.
After all the horrors I've witnessed, the injuries I've suffered trying to restock the fragrances while gypsies rip them from my arms, the 5am starts for my poor family when they had to drive me to work, this is the biggest tip I can give you. It is, after all, just stuff. Truly, it's not worth sacrificing your humanity for. If at the end of the day you're feeling guilty about tricking that teenage girl into thinking One Direction was in store, then stealing her Marc by Marc iPad cover while she wasn't looking, ask yourself was it worth it? If the answer's yes, then you're a professional. If it's no, next year just stay home and eat your Terry's Chocolate Orange in bed with a nice cup of tea.
Image via the Sunday Times