5 Things to Buy in January — And 3 You Should Skip
After the ups and downs of 2021, most people are ready for the promise this new year brings. Whether you’re setting intentions to help you reach your money goals or making more traditional resolutions, shopping for good deals will likely fit into your plans.
Just be aware that supply-chain issues will be a factor for a while. “Some manufacturers are forecasting issues may be resolved by summer 2022, but others are saying it'll be 2023 before they're able to catch up to demand,” says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.
“In some cases, you may be better off going to a local retailer and shopping in person to find out what items are in stock,” says consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.
Whether you’re planning to do some shopping in person or online, here are some of the best things to buy in January, and a few you should pass on.
What to buy in January
If you have holiday gift cards to use or you’re just ready for a winter wardrobe refresh, you’re in luck. “In January, retailers begin to clear the winter clothing from their shelves in order to make room for spring apparel, so things like sweaters, scarves, and gloves hit clearance racks,” Ramhold says. “Watch for discounts to be around 60 percent to 75 percent off, although others could go even higher, up to 85 percent off.”
Woroch adds that coats and boots could be anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent off regularly marked prices.
Retailers are aware that “getting into shape” tops many a new year's resolutions list, so “they’re offering discounts up to 60 percent off to entice motivated shoppers to buy new yoga mats, hand weights, exercise balls, resistance bands, and more,” Ramhold says. However, she adds that fitness equipment incorporating rubber may increase, as the supply of rubber has been impacted by flooding and leaf disease.
Holiday items and gift baskets
If you are returning gifts this month or just picking up other items, Woroch suggests peeking at the retailer’s holiday section, which will feature items on clearance for 50 to 87 percent off. “This is a great time to scoop up wrapping paper, gift bags or bows, as well as decorative items like wreaths, ornaments and tree skirts, for dramatic discounts,” Woroch says. “For example, Michaels is offering a great deal on this Pre-Lit Fraser Fit Artificial Tree.”
While gift baskets are a popular item during the winter holidays, few people send them in January, which makes it a great time to buy one. “For instance, Harry and David is offering $20 off several of its popular gift sets,” Woroch says. “So you could send one as a New Year gift to a loved one or treat yourself with savings of up to 50 percent off.”
Linens and soft goods
White sales are traditionally big retail events in January, with soft home goods at discounts up to 70 percent to 80 percent off, Ramhold says. These include all aspects of bedding, from blankets to sheets to pillows, as well as bath items such as shower curtains and towels.
Woroch’s tip is to check out an outlet center for these types of sales. “You can often find discounts on already reduced merchandise,” she says. “I also prefer to shop for bedding in person so I can touch the material. Sometimes a high thread count doesn’t always result in the softest material.” Otherwise, she recommends reading reviews to ensure you’re getting quality goods.
As football fans eagerly anticipate the Super Bowl, electronics retailers are stepping up to promote lots of deals on large-screen TVs. “After Black Friday, this is the second-best time of year to buy a TV,” Woroch says. “Make sure to shop around to see which store has the best price.” She also recommends using Honey’s historical price checker to confirm the price is in fact the lowest in recent months, along with a cash-back tool like Cently to earn money back on your big ticket purchase.
What to skip in January
Mattresses and furniture
Even if your long winter naps are getting disrupted by an uncomfortable bed, Ramhold says to wait until Presidents' Day, when plenty of stores will be discounting mattresses of all sizes. “Department stores could take 60 percent off then, while even stores like Home Depot will offer 40 percent off select mattresses,” she says. “Watch for online mattress retailers to offer up their own sales as well, though the savings might be smaller.”
Woroch adds that holiday weekends also provide the best sales on big-ticket furniture items, “so hold off until February where you can shop discounts on everything from couches to beds and get an average savings of 20 to 30 percent off.”
Unlike clothing brands, which start to mark down winter clothing during the peak of the cold season, winter gear retailers keep prices pretty steady through the winter. “Whether you’re looking for a snow blower or new skis or snowshoes, hold off a couple more months,” Woroch says. Expect prices to start dipping in March as the season winds down.
A new car
Cars are a must for many people, so figuring out the best one for your budget is important. Overall, car prices are higher than years past thanks to the microchip shortage that is delaying production. But January is the least discounted month of the year when it comes to car prices. “So if you don’t absolutely need one, you should definitely wait,” Woroch says. “The best times to buy a car are at the end of the month or calendar year.” She adds that manufacturers release new car models in September and October, so expect sales on previous models then.
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