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During the holiday season, the sheer amount of doorbusters and clearances can feel overwhelming. Retailers are trying their hardest to clear out inventories before the end of the year while harried holiday shoppers are just beginning to cross items off their lists.
While there are plenty of sales in November, not everything will be a bargain. Here are some things to hold out on in November and tips from the experts on when to buy them instead.
Toys not in high demand
The hottest toys for children are expected to sell out quickly on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so if your child wants a popular item like LOL Surprise, you’ll want to go ahead and buy now.
However, if your kids aren’t yearning for the most popular toys this season, waiting until mid or even late December to head to the toy store could be your key to the best savings.
Big-box retailers like Target and Walmart are looking to serve customers who would have shopped at Toys R Us in previous years, so they may increase inventories and cut prices well into December.
Anything in-store Black Friday that’s not on sale
When shopping on Black Friday, avoid buying anything that’s not marked down.
“When you go into the store on Black Friday, if it’s not on sale, don’t buy it,” says Jon Vincent, co-founder of EarlyBlackFriday.com. “(Doorbusters) are just trying to get you into the store to buy more products.”
If you don’t have a specific purchase in mind, Vincent recommends shopping Cyber Week sales, which are more general sitewide discounts rather than single-product markdowns.
“Shoppers need to pay attention to the sales to get an idea of what an item is going for; that way, they know when to pounce when the price drops,” says Sarah Hollenbeck, shopping and retail expert at BlackFriday.com.
Start tracking prices on the items at the top of your list so you’ll know if you’re getting a good Black Friday deal or if you should wait until Cyber Week or even December.
Gym memberships and fitness equipment
While you spend November sneaking leftover Halloween candy, preparing (read: taste-testing) baked goods and eating turkey, a gym membership or treadmill purchase can seem tempting.
However, experts say the best time to join a gym is either in January when fitness clubs try to entice New Year’s resolution-makers or during summer when regular gym-goers are moving their workouts outdoors.
Similarly, fitness equipment retailers tend to advertise discounts to compete with gym membership prices in January and to clear out inventories in the spring before exercisers start spending more time outside.
Appliances and mattresses
If you’re renovating or moving in the near future, Hollenbeck recommends waiting a bit longer to fill your space with large appliances and mattresses.
You may see some doorbusters from Best Buy or Mattress Firm during Black Friday, but wait until the new year when stores begin clearing out old products to make room for new incoming models.
“Big-ticket items like appliances and mattresses may see some good discounts over Black Friday, but the prices are nowhere near the lowest they will be all year,” she says. “If you are looking to save as much as you possibly can on these bigger items, wait until the next three-day weekend sale.”
Travel Deal Tuesday is Nov. 27, and it may be your ticket to a great deal on next year’s big vacation or weekend getaway. But by November, you should have already booked your travel through the end of 2018.
However, people love to procrastinate and holiday travel bookings will be in high demand throughout November, so expect flight and hotel prices to skyrocket.
If you haven’t booked your Thanksgiving or holiday travel yet, go ahead and lock down the best prices you can find. It’s unlikely that flight and hotel rates will drop between now and the end of the year.
Clothing and department stores will feature their full winter inventories this month. If you’re not in need of winter gear before the cold weather hits, though, it always pays to shop offseason.
“Winter clothes seem like a tempting buy during the colder months,” Hollenbeck says. “But you can expect those prices to fall even further in late winter, when retailers are making way for spring lines.”
If you are in the market for winter clothes this month, Hollenbeck recommends going to smaller clothing stores’ websites for site-wide offers during Cyber Week rather than the retail giants.
“Target, for example, usually only offers 15 percent off, while Gap, Express and Banana Republic offer 50 percent off each year,” she says.
As soon as Halloween costumes and decorations are packed up this month, they’ll be replaced with holiday decor — usually at full price.
Resist buying your garland and tree toppers now and you can count on big savings come December. Of course, the best time to buy Christmas goods is after the holidays have passed, so if you can, wait until Dec. 26 to pick up goods for next year’s festivities.