With Andrea Browne, Online Editor at Kiplinger.com
Although the Christmas shopping season is almost over, Andrea Browne believes it’s not the end of the best time to buy things and tells us that we could still score some pretty juicy year-end deals.
Wait ‘Till After Christmas
Andrea cautions us not to get taken in by all the aggressive deals in the run-up to Christmas. Instead, we should hold off until after Christmas—perhaps the best time to buy—when a lot of good deals get even better, as retailers look at clearing out their inventories. For example, retailers know that families often get together over the holiday season and may be looking to buy bedding items, such as sheets, pillowcases, comforters, etc. But hold off, because these items go on deep discount right after Christmas.
Gift Cards at Deep Discounts
Another example is gift cards. Many people put off their gift buying and then settle for gift cards as the easy way out, often buying more gift cards than they need. Then, after Christmas, they hop online to sell their extra gift cards for 15% off or more, at sites such as CardPool.com and CardCash.com., which is virtually cash sitting on the table.
Additionally, people often receive gift cards for stores they do not shop at and end up selling the card at a significant discount just to get some cash out of it.
New Year’s Exercise Resolutions!
Another obvious item is exercise equipment. Generally, people set their fitness goals before the New Year and don’t want to miss out on great bargains. Retailers are aware of this seasonal pre-New Year demand and offer incredible deals around Thanksgiving and early December. But, the best time to buy, again, is after Christmas—more specifically, after New Year, when exercise equipment gets discounted by up to 70% for items such as treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stationary bikes, which could come down in price from the $500-$700 range to as low as $200- $300, offering significant savings.
Go Cruisin’ In January
Cruise operators also cash in during the holiday season, so January through March is often a better time to go on a cruise, when fares are lower and you miss out on big Thanksgiving through Christmas holiday crowds.
The holidays are a really popular time for people to watch shows in most big cities, such as Broadway in New York City. Once Christmas vacation is over and people head back to work or school, show venues see a slump in ticket sales, which they make up for by offering deep discounts on less popular shows. For instance, Broadway Week in NYC starts around January 19, allowing patrons to buy two tickets for the price of one, which can save a few hundred dollars. But don’t hold your breath for the most popular shows such as “Hamilton” which are less likely to offer deals.
Furniture, Holiday Decorations, Winter Gear, Cars
Other items that Andrea recommends on her “best time to buy” list include furniture, at 50% off clearance sales immediately after Christmas; holiday decorations, where prices drop by more than half on items such as ornaments, artificial trees, and string lights; winter apparel and sports gear which typically go on sale at the end of December going into January since stores want to make room for their spring inventory by mid-February; and cars, with most dealerships offering the best deals around New Year’s Eve to close out the year on a high to make room for new models.
As for jewelry, you can find great savings on expensive items after Valentine’s Day.
As the old saying goes, “you should buy straw hats in winter.” So hold off on making those purchases until the demand dies down— sort of like Warren Buffett’s approach to buying stocks!
Disclosure: The opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily United Capital. Interviewee is not a representative of United Capital. Investing involves risk and investors should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions. Content provided is intended for informational purposes only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered tax, legal, investment advice. Please contact your tax, legal, financial professional with questions about your specific needs and circumstances. The information contained herein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however their accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All data are driven from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by United Capital.
Steve Pomeranz: The Christmas shopping season is almost over, but if you’re smart there are a few purchases that should wait until the holiday is over. Andrea Browne joins the conversation from Kiplinger.com. Hi, Andrea, welcome to the show.
Andrea Browne: Hi, thanks for having me.
Steve Pomeranz: What are some of the items that should not be bought during the holidays?
Andrea Browne: Well, these are a couple of things that you shouldn’t buy. And I think a big thing here for consumers to know is that it’s very easy to get overwhelmed during this time of year because there are a lot of holiday sales that run through Christmas. And retailers are really trying to entice shoppers to spend money with deals as much as 50 to 60% off on certain items.
And what people need to know is that some of those same items will go on sale for even cheaper prices at another time of the year, specifically right after Christmas. So one of the big things that you want to hold off and wait until after the holidays to buy is bedding.
During the holidays, you may tend to have lots of guests and people staying with you at your home. And you may feel like I need to run out and get new sheets and pillowcases to accommodate for these new visitors that I have in my home. And you definitely want to wait to do that.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah.
Andrea Browne: Because most big-box retailers such as Target and major department stores such as Macy’s, they will have white or linen sales in January, with items such as—like I mentioned—comforters, sheets, pillowcases, things of that nature on sale for as much as 50% off. And for anyone who regularly is buying bedding for a queen or king-size bed, that’s a huge saving.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, well I’m pretty much oblivious to anything regarding bedding, but I knew about white sales.
Andrea Browne: [LAUGH] Yeah, that’s definitely a good thing to know about. Another thing that people want to consider holding off until after the holidays to get is gift cards. And I know, if you’re a last-minute shopper, you’re a procrastinator, and you wait till the very last minute to buy your gifts, you just might automatically assume let me grab this gift card and let this person buy whatever they want for themselves.
Steve Pomeranz: Sure, I’ve done that.
Andrea Browne: But a lot of times people get these gift cards at Christmas, they don’t want them and they end up selling them online and you can buy them on websites such as cardcash.com or cardpool.com for up to 15% cheaper than the face value of the card.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, let me stop you right there, because this was fascinating. So in a sense, you can buy cash at a 15% discount by just going to these websites, because people get the cash cards, they don’t really want to buy stuff with them, they just want the cash, so they’ll go and sell them.
Because you can’t redeem them, can you?
Andrea Browne: No, you cannot, and especially if you get cards that are store specific.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah.
Andrea Browne: If you give somebody a card to a store that they really don’t shop at or they really not interested in buying anything from that. This is a way for them to sell that card and get the cash back as you mentioned and spend that money on whatever it is that they want.
Steve Pomeranz: Well, we’re definitely going to be putting this up on our website. The websites are cardcash.com and cardpool.com, both of those, one word. What else is best to wait for?
Andrea Browne: Exercise equipment, oddly enough. I know a lot of people tend to set fitness goals for the New Year, and they think they need to go out and buy these treadmills and these ellipticals during the holidays because there’s sales going on, so I have to take advantage of these sales while they’re happening.
But that is definitely another item you wanna wait until after the holidays to buy, specifically in January.
Steve Pomeranz: What kind of markdowns can you expect to get?
Andrea Browne: Up to 70% off on things such as treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stationary bikes. And if you’re familiar with kind of how much those things tend to cost.
Steve Pomeranz: That’s a lot.
Andrea Browne: They’re usually in the 500, 600, $700 range. Then you can get them for a less than half of that [INAUDIBLE] just wait a few weeks after Christmas to buy them.
Steve Pomeranz: Well, since they’re going to sit in your bedroom and you’re just going to put your clothes on them after a while anyway.
Maybe you can include them in your bedding purchases.
Andrea Browne: Yeah, yeah, there’s no reason to pay. No reason to pay full price.
Steve Pomeranz: [LAUGH] What else you got?
Andrea Browne: Also, there is Caribbean Cruises, for people who might think the holidays are a good time to travel. When you book a cruise during the month of January, February, or March, that usually means that you’re missing the big holiday crowds.
Holiday crowds will usually tend to grow starting around Thanksgiving throughout December. And by waiting until January, you’ll be able to take advantage of lower fares during that time of year. Also another good thing is Broadway tickets, oddly enough. If you’re travelling to the New York City area during the holidays, and you’re considering seeing a show, you might want to wait.
If you plan on being there through January, in New York there’s this thing called Broadway Week, which starts on January 19th. And during this time, show patrons can buy two tickets for the price of one. So anyone who’s been to a Broadway show and you want really good seats, they can cost you a couple hundred dollars.
So this is a very good deal.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, that one’s surprising to me because I decided to give my son two Broadway tickets, actually what he wanted. And now after reading your material and speaking with you I realize telling him to wait until January because he can probably get a good deal.
I guess it depends on the show.
Andrea Browne: Yeah, it depends on the show. Now the thing to keep in mind is that the shows that you’ll be able to see during the Broadway week are going to be limited so it may not necessarily be the big hot shows that are out right now.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, like Hamilton you’re not going to get to.
Andrea Browne: Right, exactly, you definitely will not be able to see Hamilton during Broadway week.
Steve Pomeranz: All right, so we talked about bedding, we talked about cruises, Broadway tickets, gift cards. What are some of the other items that we should wait until the beginning of the year?
Andrea Browne: Furniture, a lot of furniture retailers have clearance sales immediately following Christmas and that can be as much as 50% off and a lot of stores will have clearance sales on some of their samples sale items. And some of their items that have been there, some of the previous collections throughout the, some of their previous furniture collections throughout earlier in the year.
And the reason why they do that is because they’re trying to clear out all their older inventory to make room for the newer inventory that they’re having for the new year. That usually is released around February.
Steve Pomeranz: Now when you’re buying gifts for Christmas, you wanna be able to give them during the Christmas period, right?
Andrea Browne: Right, right.
Steve Pomeranz: And that’s one of the reasons that waiting until January is kind of hard. Of course, bedding, you can probably not give them bedding for Christmas [LAUGH].
Andrea Browne: No, and one thing I will say for that. If you have little kids, obviously, you’re not going to wait up until the weeks following Christmas.
Steve Pomeranz: No.
Andrea Browne: But if you have adult children, kids in college, who won’t necessarily be offended or be bent out of shape about getting their gift a couple days after Christmas. These are definitely times of year for you to take advantage of significant discounts.
Steve Pomeranz: Well what about items like jewelry?
Is that affected by the seasonality that you spoke?
Andrea Browne: It definitely is, it definitely is. Jewelry is typically, it’s in high demand during the holidays.
Steve Pomeranz: Sure.
Andrea Browne: But there are specific times of the year that are better to buy jewelry. And specifically, you want to wait until after Valentine’s Day to buy jewelry.
Because a lot of jewelry stores will have sales of 15 to 25% off on jewelry post Valentine’s Day. And that’s also a very popular engagement season, that type of thing. So you’ll see prices drop significantly after Valentine’s Day. If you can hold off on giving those diamond earrings or buying your girlfriend or your boyfriend or your husband or wife a piece of fine jewelry.
If you can wait until then, you definitely should, cuz you’ll definitely see a difference, that’s the bottom line.
Steve Pomeranz: Well, there’s a very old saying that you should buy straw hats in winter. Of course, nobody wears straw hats anymore. But way back when, that was a summer item, and so you should buy them in winter.
So what would be another category that you would want to buy when it’s out of season?
Andrea Browne: Holiday decorations, for sure.
Steve Pomeranz: Perfect, of course.
Andrea Browne: Holiday decorations, for sure. Almost immediately following Christmas, like December 26, you will see prices drop by more than half on things such as ornaments, artificial trees, string lights.
Steve Pomeranz: Mm-hm.
Andrea Browne: Prices could be slashed by as much as 70% on these types of items so if you don’t need to buy new holiday decorations but you think you might need to replenish your holiday decorations for the following year. Wait until right after Christmas leading into January to stock up on all of those types of items for the next year.
Steve Pomeranz: What about winter apparel, I mean, it is still the winter in January, does that go on sale?
Andrea Browne: Yeah, items such as, and what you’re talking about here, you’re talking about your winter coats, sweaters, boots, things of that nature, typically go on sale right at the end of December going into January.
Because stores are trying to get rid of all their winter apparel, all their cold weather clothing and items like that to make room for their spring inventory which usually tends to hit stores mid-February.
Steve Pomeranz: I see, okay, what about winter sports equipment?
Andrea Browne: That also is another item, things such as snowboards, ice skates, hockey gear will be marked down by as much as 20% starting in January.
So if you don’t need to buy winter sports equipment before Christmas, or before December, or right around the holiday gift-giving time, you definitely want to wait until January. Because some of those things, if anybody with kids who are on these types of winter sports teams know that the equipment can get pretty expensive.
So if you can just wait until January where you can see the cost difference, it’s definitely worth the wait.
Steve Pomeranz: Talking with Andrea Browne. She is with Kiplinger.com, and we’re talking about best items to buy right after Christmas. Don’t forget to go to stevepomeranz.com to join the conversation.
Andrea, what about buying a car in January versus in December?
Andrea Browne: Well, when it comes to cars, most dealerships around New Year’s Eve, typically offer the best deals on their vehicles. And the reason why this is is because they’re more willing to negotiate on price because, again, this is another type of item where they’re looking to clear out their older inventory to make room for the new year’s models.
That would definitely be a better time for you to go in there and try to haggle a dealer on getting a lower price on a new car.
Steve Pomeranz: But I guess if you hold off longer, when do you think the best season is to buy a car? Do you have any idea overall?
Andrea Browne: It usually is in the spring, in early to mid April is usually the best time to look for cars. It’s around that time that you’ll find dealers that tend to buy the most at auctions and things of that nature. So they’re looking to, again, make room for the new inventory, get rid of the old inventory, and also they get manufacturer incentives.
So they kind of are passing those savings on to you.
Steve Pomeranz: My guest Andrea Browne from kiplinger.com talking about the best things to wait until after Christmas to buy. And to join the conversation and to find out about some of the websites that we mentioned on the show, don’t forget to go to stevepomeranz.com
Andrea Browne: Thank you.