The weather outside may or may not be so frightful, but the signs of the season have already made an appearance — not the least of which are the sales that retailers have been unleashing to eager deal hunters.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday technically happened last month, but the coming weeks will still be packed with worthwhile discounts. “Retailers who didn’t sell as much as they expected will be extending their holiday promotions,” says Nathan Burrow, deals editor at Wirecutter. “We’ll likely see prices that are close to or just as good as those sales continue into early December in many categories. The only concern would be availability and shipping, so shopping earlier in the month is always a good idea.”
So get your gift lists ready. Here are some of the best things to buy in December — and a few you should pass on.
WHAT TO BUY IN DECEMBER
Toys. Serious shoppers likely jumped on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday toy sales, but that doesn’t mean the bargains are played out. “It’s common to see another wave of toy sales in December, with some at even better prices than during late November, as retailers try to appeal to parents buying just before the December holiday,” Burrow says. “Educational STEM toys are going to be big as well as any kind of building toys, such as Magformers and ZOOBs.”
Small Kitchen Appliances. Chilly temperatures and festive recipes make this a popular category every holiday season. “Despite the glut of sales in late November, we still expect strong prices in December for small kitchen appliances like toasters, electric pressure cookers and air fryers,” Burrow says.
Music Accessories. Whether you’re orchestrating your own holiday playlist or would prefer to tune into something entirely different, you’ll find plenty of deals on music accessories this month. “Before and after the December holidays, we’ll continue to see sales on headphones, portable Bluetooth speakers or speakers for the home,” Burrow says.
Gift Cards. Love them or hate them, gift cards remain one of the most popular options when you’re pressed for time or stumped for what to buy. “We actually saw a lot of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that bundled a gift card with other purchases, from car seats to speakers,” Burrow says. “In December, we will see more discounts on the cards themselves, rather than as freebies when you buy something else.”
WHAT TO SKIP IN DECEMBER
Bedding and Mattresses. Unless your mattress is so uncomfortable it’s keeping you up at night, you should hold off on buying anything in this category right now. According to Burrow, you’ve likely already missed any outlier mattress or bedding sales from November that would have netted you a great deal. “You’ll be able to grab bedding at great prices during white sales in January and February,” Burrow says. “Mattresses will be available at their best prices around President’s Day in February.”
Cars. Brand-new vehicles adorned with giant bows are staples of automobile ads this time of year, but you’ll find few true bargains right now. December has historically been one of the best times to purchase a new or used vehicle because dealerships have monthly, quarterly and yearly sales quotas. But this year, due to the pandemic, Burrow says that’s not so much the case. “It’s an interesting shift due to the coronavirus,” he says. “New cars are still seeing historically low inventory levels and used vehicles have seen a resulting spike in price.”
Cold Weather Apparel. If your puffer coat and snow boots can survive another couple of months, Burrow says it’s best not to replace them just yet. “It’s difficult to find good prices on winter clothing in the middle of the season,” he says. “We’ll see much better prices in February and March.”