December is a month filled with hundreds of sales, but what most shoppers don't know is that the best sales of the month don't begin until after Christmas. December 26 is when retailers begin to frantically discount the items they couldn't sell earlier in the month.
For consumers, After Christmas sales mean deep discounts on the stuff you want to buy. We combed through some of 2012's best post-Christmas promotions to uncover which of this year's After Christmas sales will be worth your time, and what kind of discounts can you expect. In fact, last year we posted 7% more Editors' Choice after-Christmas sales than we did in 2011; we're hoping that number will only increase for 2013.
After Christmas Sales Will Start Before Christmas
Before you even think about the sales, it's important to know that, like Black Friday (which has essentially taken over Thanksgiving), we expect to see after-Christmas sales starting earlier than usual. And while it might seem crazy, given their name, After Christmas sales actually start before Christmas itself.
In fact, last year we saw sales labeled as "After Christmas" that went live as early as December 24. This year we expect sales to start within the same timeframe; and since Christmas Eve falls on a Tuesday, we wouldn't be surprised to see a few branded sales begin as early as Monday, December 23.
It's also worth noting that this year December 26 falls on a Thursday, when many people might be at work. As such, retailers will have to work harder to get consumers' attention. As such, this year we expect to see catchy sales headlines and discount offers come straight to in our inboxes. And while tactics will generate awareness, they may not offer the best deals. So naturally we recommend keeping a focus on the items you actually want or need.
After Christmas Sales May Be Especially Good This Year
In 2011, 12% of the deals posted on December 26 were of Editors' Choice caliber, meaning they were the best discounts and sales we'd seen all year. Last year, the number of Editors' Choice deals jumped to 19%. If this trend continues, we might see even more Editors' Choice After Christmas sales this year. Considering the volume of consumer reports detailing how retailers did not sell as much as they would have liked during Black Friday, and how holiday spending overall is expected to be down, we anticipate stores will promote After Christmas sales with especially enticing price cuts.
That said, After Christmas sales typically don't hold a candle to Black Friday offers. For comparison, the number of Editors' Choice deals posted on Black Friday of this year was 50%. (In previous years it had remained steady at 38%.) We don't think the number of top-shelf offers will reach that volume after Christmas, but there are still certain items that will see better discounts post-Christmas, including brand-name HDTVs and Christmas decor.
The Best Things to Buy Right After Christmas
For apparel — which is the most discounted item after Christmas — the best sales will come from Banana Republic, Club Monaco, GAP, and French Connection, all of which had "best of the year," Editors' Choice-level sales on the day after Christmas in 2012. For GAP and French Connection, it was the second consecutive year that their After Christmas sales turned DealNews editors' heads with extra discounts ranging from 30% to 50% off on top of sales that already slashed up to 75% off.
Honorable mentions also go to Saks Fifth Avenue and 6pm, both of which offered their biggest percent-off sales along with no-minimum free shipping. And in-store shoppers will want to carry a stack of printable coupons for additional savings. Staples, Express, and Banana Republic are just a few of the stores with printable coupons that combined with ongoing sales.
For holiday treats and decorations, we recommend shopping at Godiva, which traditionally discounts its chocolates by up to 40% off. Also, be sure to check stores like Neiman Marcus, which last year took up to 51% off its selection of Godiva chocolates. For holiday decorations, both Home Depot and Lowe's offered particularly aggressive deals on all things Christmas last year; by exercising some savvy forethought and buying a new tree or string of lights this year, and you'll save up to 75% off.
Gadget fans should take note, too. If you didn't find the perfect tech deal over the holidays, not all hope is lost. Specific categories, like brand-name HDTVs and a number of consumer electronics, traditionally see moreaggressive discounts post-Christmas than they do in the weeks leading up to the holidays thanks to specific product cycles; after Christmas we approach the point when 2014 models will be released and means retailers would prefer to clear out as much of the current year's stock as possible. If you don't mind a previous-generation device, now's your opportunity to save up to 80%.
This piece originally appeared at DealNews.com. Read more at DealNews: