Steer Clear of these “Sales” During the Holidays

One thing that definitely comes to mind when we think of the holiday season is shopping. Regardless of what the “true meaning” of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays at this time of year are all about, Americans at the moment are crowding shopping centers, department stores and browsing online retail sites looking for the best deal.

Black Friday is tomorrow, will you be one of those (crazy) people standing in line at 4 a.m. waiting for the doors of Walmart to open to make a mad dash inside to nab that huge HDTV on sale? Turns out, some of the most hyped items on sale on Black Friday, Cyber Monday or on other major discount days during the holidays, are actually not smart buys.

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This news comes from a variety of sources. “For all the hype, Black Friday isn’t the day to find the best deals,” The Wall Street Journal recently reported. “The early bird may not get the worm during Black Friday shopping,” CBS wrote in another recent article. Many retailers offer the same Black Friday discounts on Thanksgiving day, Cyber Monday and online. Some even larger discounts come at completely different times of the year. A report from Adobe Systems Inc. even found the biggest discounts at retailers last year were seen on the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Kiplinger, a Washington, D.C.-based business and personal finance publisher, offered a list of “what not to buy” this holiday season. People often gravitate toward these popular items because they are on someone’s Christmas list or the discounts at this time of year seem attractive. Not so, according to Kiplinger. Waiting for a different time of year will offer lower prices. The list includes:

  • Brand name HDTVs: Turns out, the best prices of the year on these TVs are seen not at Christmas time, but in late January and early February. For instance, after the start of the new year, prices of major brand HDTVs fall 10% lower than seen on Black Friday.
  • Cars: If you can, want until the very last day of the year to go car shopping. This is when car salespeople are willing to haggle with you just to clear their new car inventory before the new year. For a used car, however, go shopping during April, that’s when the best deals are seen.
  • Winter clothing: Markdowns of up to 75% on winter coats, sweaters and other clothing will come in January, not on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
  • Jewelry: A nice holiday gift, sure, but the biggest sales on jewelry are seen post-Valentine’s Day, when retailers take 15% to 25% off these items.
  • Cruises: A cruise, too, sounds like a nice way to spend the holidays, but Caribbean cruises are crowded at this time of year and companies have higher fares. The best time to find lower fares is January through March.
  • Furniture: Furniture stores have clearance sales in January - not often before the holidays. This is to clear inventory before new styles arrive in February. July is another good month to go furniture shopping, as new models are also released in August.
  • Holiday decorations: This one may be hard for some who really get into the holiday spirit, but remember that all these decorations will go on sale – by as much as 90% – immediately after Dec. 25.

Is there something we missed? Let us know if you snagged a great deal on an item at a certain time of year (that was not the holiday season).

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