Shoppers who racked up a lot of credit card debt and spent a lot of money at malls during the holiday season are probably ready to give their wallets a break. But staying away from your favorite stores might be difficult. After all, you’ll find quite a few items on the clearance rack this month.
While there are some post-holiday sales and special discounts, there are plenty of things you’re better off waiting to buy. Here are a few items worth skipping in January.
Sometimes the early bird doesn’t get the worm.
April 15 is quickly approaching, but getting a head start on your taxes may not pay off. You may want to wait until February to buy tax software from TurboTax or H&R Block.
“Last year, we were seeing sales in January on tax software, but what we’re predicting is that the sales are going to be stronger in February this year,” says Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert of TraeBodge.com.
Usually, it’s best to buy toys in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
In January, “You’re not going to find great toy deals,” Bodge says. “The best toy deals, from what I can see, are in December.”
If you can’t find many toys on sale this month, you may avoid buying them altogether. On the bright side, your little ones will be able to enjoy their new deliveries from Santa.
Of course, if you have a birthday party or baby shower to attend and can’t avoid a trip to the toy store this month, you may find discounted prices on a few overstocked toys left on the shelves after the holidays.
While hotels and travel expenses will be cheaper this month, you’ll have to wait a bit longer to find a new carry-on bag on sale. Since fewer people are traveling, retailers have fewer incentives to mark down their luggage prices.
If you want a new suitcase for your spring beach getaway or big summer adventure, it’s best to wait a couple of months. At that point, stores should be clearing out inventory from last year in order to make space for new products. They’ll also offer discounts to entice spring breakers in March.
The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) takes place in January and features discounts on electronics like televisions, cameras and smart devices. But don’t expect to see too many smartphones.
You can’t always wait to get a new phone if yours is damaged or calls it quits. But if you can hold off on buying a new cellphone, you’ll generally score the best deals after new model releases. That’s when retailers lower the cost of existing models and make room for the latest and greatest merchandise.
For iPhone users, you’ll find more discounts in the fall after Apple’s annual keynote event in September. Android releases vary, so users will have to do their best to predict big announcements.
Winter may have only just begun, but don’t be surprised to see retailers debuting their spring styles this month.
“You’ll start to see some spring things in there and things for vacations and resorts,” says Michelle Madhok, online shopping expert and founder of deals site SheFinds.com. “If you can, I would not buy that now, because it’ll get marked down as the season goes on.”
But whether you should buy winter apparel in January or purchase it later depends on your personal preference. Bodge says you’re better off waiting until February for the best deals.
“There’s typically a December spike in apparel sales, but the next sale season won’t start until February,” Bodge says. “Prices will continue to drop throughout February and you’ll have your nice clearance-level pricing before the spring merchandise comes out in early March.”
Madhok, however, recommends taking stock of what you need before deciding when to start shopping.
“February or March is good, but the question is, how long can you wait until they don’t have your size?” she asks. “If you need something, you should probably go ahead and buy it. If you’re just looking for something that sparks your interest, then I would wait.”
Typically, you’ll find the best sales on mattresses around President’s Day, which falls on Feb. 18 this year. Retailers take advantage of the three-day weekend’s extra shopping day and new inventory appears in March.
Don’t worry if you’re not quite ready to shell out any money for a mattress in February. You can also find good mattress deals on three-day holiday weekends around Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Don’t hold out for MLK Day
While holiday weekends around President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Columbus Day are great times to shop for deals on home furniture, cars and appliances, you’ll find fewer discounts around Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. Still, if you’d be satisfied with any sort of discount, you won’t be completely disappointed.
“You will see sales here and there, but it’s not a big sale weekend and there’s not a pattern that I can see around that weekend,” Bodge says. “Obviously people have that Monday off and stores are going to be trying to lure consumers in, so there will be some promotional activity.”
Check to see if there are any special offers as the holiday approaches. And try to take advantage of discounts on travel over the holiday weekend.