Despite the fact that many Christmas displays are up when stores are still marking down fake fangs and pint-sized chocolate bars, the winter holidays come and go quickly. In their wake, they leave exhausted credit cards and some purchases that are regretted as soon as the post-Christmas/Boxing Day sales roll around. When shopping for so many people, it is hard not to buy some items for yourself, too. But waiting out the frenzy of Christmas sales could actually save you a lot of money. We talked to a trio of savvy shoppers to learn what items you should wait until after Christmas to buy in order to save some cash.
When new winter clothing hits the shelves it is priced at the top of the range and barely works its way down as winter arrives. Carrie Rocha of PocketYourDollars.com advises shoppers to plan a year ahead to save on winter clothing. “January and July are the two times of year when retailers turn over their merchandise for the new season. That makes January a great time to buy next year's winter gear for you and your kids.” Children can pose a challenge if they hit a particularly large growth spurt, but parents are usually safe buying the next size up.
Toys and Small Gifts
When Christmas is over, retailers are left with excess stock of cosmetic sets, toys, spa gift baskets and much more. These items are quickly moved to the clearance bin to make room for regular merchandise again. “I watch for toy clearances at 70% off or more and then buy toys for my kids' birthdays and to keep on hand for the birthdays of cousins and school friends,” says Rocha. “I pick up a supply of adult gifts for unexpected occasions as well. A spa set is a good gift for welcoming new neighbors, returning a kindness or just saying thank you.”
Like winter clothing, decorations and other Christmas paraphernalia doesn’t budge much in price until the big day is over. Crystal Paine of MoneySavingMom.com says, “Christmas trees, lights, decor, wrapping paper and more will all be 50 to 75% off within a few weeks after Christmas. Buying ahead for next year will save you a bundle.”
The fitness industry runs contrary to the logic of charging higher prices during periods of high demand. That’s because the demand for fitness goods after Christmas is fragile in that it hinges on one tradition. “Most people make New Year's resolutions to get in shape and lose weight.” Paine explains, “The stores and gyms know this and they capitalize upon everyone's great intentions by running sales on fitness equipment, DVDs and gym memberships after the first of the year.”
Although everything from exercise balls to treadmills can be bought cheap in the new year, there are even bigger deals in the used market. “If you can hold off for a few more months, you can usually find killer deals on Craigslist and at garage sales on almost-new fitness equipment that people purchased at the beginning of the year and then never ended up using.” Paine said.
Food is in demand year round, but the type of food that’s in demand changes drastically after the holidays. Josh Elledge of SavingsAngel.com says that after Christmas is prime time to scoop up some serious deals in the grocery aisles. “Baking supplies, wine, cheese and seasonal flavors of products are all on the way out,” he explains. “Grocers clearance a lot of what is left from the holiday season to make way for the health foods everyone seems to want in January.”
“Black Friday can have some great electronic deals,” says Elledge, “but you can find sales that are just as good or better after the New Year. The International Consumer Electronics Show takes place every January and showcases new items and model. Retailers know these new models are on the way, so they want to unload last year’s models and free up shelf space.”
The Importance of Planning Ahead
You need to shop smart if you are aiming to save money — and that means having a clear plan. Timing major purchases for after-Christmas and Boxing Day sales can yield huge savings if you have a list of target items. “I always tell people that if they have the money and the storage space, shop with the entire next year in mind,” suggests Elledge. “Rock bottom pricing is available on everything from electronics to clothing to jewelry.”
The other thing you need in order to make the most of post-Christmas shopping is a willingness to settle. In addition to the items mentioned, you’ll see a lot of deep discounts on major appliances, furniture, sporting goods and just about every other retail item that is updated in the January inventory turnover.
One of the fears many buyers face is that the next year’s update will bring new features or design elements that significantly increase the functionality of the product. This is especially true of TVs, but it applies to everything from ovens to closet organizers. There is almost no window of time to compare current and upcoming models in the Boxing Day rush, so you need to know what items you feel comfortable buying as is.
The Bottom Line
This style of shopping might mean that you will be waiting longer for a particular item, but the money you save on that product will make the wait worthwhile.