21 December 2021

Canberra's retail shops will be back with a vengeance for Boxing Day

| James Coleman
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Retail store shopfront at Canberra Outlet

Boxing Day means big sales for retail outlets. Photo: Canberra Outlet.

It’s the cycle of life. We spend the entire year prowling the shops for things that would make the perfect Christmas gifts. The aisles and websites grow increasingly crowded as December approaches, before reaching fever pitch on Christmas Eve.

Everything then shuts for a day – save for petrol stations and convenience stores – and we all wonder how we will possibly survive. But we’re not wondering for long because even before the fat around the roast turkey on Christmas Day has morphed into a greasy sludge, we’re thinking about one thing: shopping again.

Boxing Day on 26 December first emerged in Britain sometime in the early 1800s. The exact roots of its name are unknown, but there are two leading theories.

One is that it was the day that servants, who were required to work on Christmas Day, were given boxes filled with small gifts, money and leftovers from Christmas dinner in recognition of good service throughout the year – essentially the first ‘holiday bonuses’.

Another popular theory is that Boxing Day arose from the alms boxes that were placed in churches during the Advent season for the collection of monetary donations. Clergy members then distributed the contents of the boxes to the poor on 26 December.

Queue of people at retail outlet

Shop owners appreciate patience from customers as they adhere to COVID-19 density limits. Photo: Canberra Outlet.

These days, it’s all about shops trying to clear their stock before the end of the year. And in 2021, due to the fact that Boxing Day falls on a Sunday, we score a public holiday on Tuesday, 28 December, although the sales usually continue beyond the day itself anyway.

It isn’t just the blow-up Santas and colourful stockings going for cheap either – fashion, shoes, jewellery, whitegoods and furniture all get in on the action.

You know those crowds of people you couldn’t help but occasionally bump your trolley into on Christmas Eve? Be prepared to meet them all again.

There’ll be a throng of eager shoppers out for a good deal, and to give them as much time to spend as possible, Canberra’s major shopping malls are extending their trading hours for Boxing Day.

The Canberra Centre will be open from 8 am to 7 pm; Westfield in Belconnen and Woden from 9 am to 6 pm; South.Point in Tuggeranong from 10 am to 4 pm; the Canberra Outlet Centre from 8:30 am to 8 pm; and Majura Park Shopping Centre from 9 am to 5:30 pm.

Canberra Centre

The Canberra Centre will be open extended hours on Boxing Day. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

For the Boxing Day Public Holiday on Tuesday, 28 December, opening hours will allow shop owners to sleep in for a bit longer so be sure to check times to avoid standing outside the door waiting in the days between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Bear in mind that COVID-19 density limits will still be in place and masks will need to be worn, so be patient as shop owners only allow so many customers in at once. Checking into the shopping centre and each store you enter with the ‘Check-in CBR’ app is still mandatory, too.

For those of us still scarred by the pre-Christmas shopping experience, the Boxing Day sales continue online, as well. However, due to the public holidays, Australia Post and other couriers won’t start sorting mail until Wednesday, 29 December.

The path to Margaret Whitlam Pavilion and the Gallery of Gardens at National Arboretum Canberra

The path to Margaret Whitlam Pavilion and the Gallery of Gardens at National Arboretum Canberra. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Because Boxing Day isn’t as special a day as Christmas Day, most other businesses are back in action, too. Take the lazy time to watch a movie at the cinema, picnic in the park, or give visiting family members a tour of the ACT’s sights.

The Australian National Botanic Gardens are open from 8:30 am to 5 pm; Australian War Memorial from 10 am to 5 pm; Parliament House from 9 am to 5 pm; National Gallery of Australia from 10 am to 5 pm; the National Museum of Australia from 9 am to 5 pm; and the National Arboretum Canberra from 9 am to 4 pm.

In the current COVID-19 climate, it’s best to book ahead at restaurants and cafes, and many are closed until January 2022 so there’s extra reason to phone ahead if you’re still not full from Christmas Day.

Right, time to start shopping for Christmas 2022.

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