The new year is upon us, and after all that shopping you likely did during the holidays, you may be looking forward to giving your credit card a rest. But January is an excellent month to bag deals like winter apparel or early Valentine's Day gifts.
So before you resign yourself to steering clear of stores all together this month, check out our list of the best and worst things to buy in January, which we compiled from our extensive archives.
Resolve to Buy Discounted Fitness Equipment
A popular New Year's resolution is to get in shape, and fittingly, January is an excellent time to get a deal on fitness gear and equipment. In fact, in years past, there have been almost double the number of deals in January. (We otherwise didn't see another spike in deals until late spring.) Look for stationary bikes, treadmills, elliptical trainers, complete home gyms, and training accessories and DVDs that are marked 40 to 90 percent off, and include brands such as NordicTrack, Weider, and Powerline. January is also a great time to start grabbing discounted equipment for winter sports.
Spring for Winter Apparel
In general, a lot of the best things to buy during After Christmas sales remain good buys throughout the month of January, including winter clothing deals. We typically see discounts of 50 to 80 percent off on coats and winter accessories at stores like Eddie Bauer, REI, Lands' End, and more. Keep in mind, however, that "low as they can go" clearance pricing will come in late February, so if you're just looking to replace this year's style for future winters, you can save more by waiting until the end of the season.
A Month for Home Furniture
Horchow, West Elm, Home Depot, Target, and Crate and Barrel are just a few of the major retailers who heavily discount their collections in January. You'll even see a few mattress sales, although we've found that the best mattress deals come in April. Expect to see furniture clearance sales that take between 40 to 75 percent off regular prices. Meanwhile, mattress sales will see slightly more modest discounts of 40 to 60 percent off from retailers like Sears and JCPenney. By comparison, the best furniture sales in December will take just 15 to 30 percent off regular prices.
Visit Our National Parks, Free of Charge
January 19 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and in celebration, all 405 national parks will feature free admission. While a large number of our parks are already free of charge, notable parks that are waiving their fees include several of the most-visited in the country, such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Olympic National Park. You'll save roughly $12 per person if you're arriving by foot or bike, or about $20 to $25 per vehicle. If you miss it, don't sweat it; the next fee-free weekend comes in February for Presidents' Day.
Keep an Eye Out for Early Tax Software Deals
This month, we will start seeing sales that take up to 50% off tax filing software and services. That usually resulted in about $10 to $20 off the retail price for software from H&R Block and TurboTax. Keep in mind however that discounts will become more frequent in February and March, and all of the Editors' Choice deals we saw last year popped up towards the end of March. Regardless of when you buy, be aware of whether the package you're buying includes the cost of submitting your state returns; frequently, these services will charge extra for state, and if it's included in the cost, that might make it a better overall deal.
Early Start on Valentine's Day Gifts
It might seem like it's far too early to think about Valentine's Day, but the steep discounts during post-Christmas clear-outs are an excellent opportunity to snag a deal for the romantic holiday. Typically, deals on jewelry and fragrances aren't so hot right before Valentine's Day; in fact, we've found that some jewelry prices actually go up slightly in February. Instead of waiting, think ahead and try shopping the numerous department store sales we see after Christmas.
Steep Savings on Christmas Goods
Who cares if it has a Santa Claus on the tin? Heavily discounted goodies abound this month from all sorts of gourmet brands, including Godiva, which will offer discounts of up to 50 percent off this month. We say, start 2015 off with something sweet, even if it temporarily interferes with your New Year's resolution to get in shape. Beyond these sugary goods, decorations also see strong sales, with discounts of up to 92 percent off at stores like Crate & Barrel, Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, Kmart, and Lowe's and Home Depot. This is an especially good time to save $100 to $250 (or more) on a new Christmas tree, so you're well-stocked for the 2015 holidays.
Beginning of Electronics Clearance Sales
Pay attention to the gadgets that debut at the Consumer Electronics Show this month; pay even closer attention to those that improve upon a 2014 model. Such previous-generation devices will then start to see new price cuts. This includes electronics like cameras, audio equipment, and Android tablets. Just remember that the announcement of a new model will inspire initial discounts (from both stores and the manufacturer), but the sales will get even better once the new model is actually available to buy. This timing can vary from device to device, so be aware of release dates.
Last Chance for Microsoft's Xbox One Price Cut?
Just before the 2014 holiday season, Microsoft announced a $50 price cut on its Xbox One consolesthat would remain in place until January 3, 2015. That ushered in a slew of great deals that knocked prices even lower than the new $349 base price point, and it even helped the console finally outsell the PlayStation 4. As we noted in our feature about things that will be less expensive in 2015, we're skeptical that Microsoft will follow through with this timeline, since the strategy has been so successful, and customers are now accustomed to the lower prices for the console. (Plus, now that Sony's sales have slowed, it seems reasonable to assume that the company will push more promos on their console, meaning Microsoft might not want to drop that competitive edge.) The only thing we know for sure, however, is that the prices will definitely be valid until January 3.
2015 TVs Could Yield Modest Discounts on Premium Sets
November and December are without a doubt the best months of the year for TV deals. However, January is also an important month because manufacturers are expected to announce their 2015 TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. While many of these new TVs won't see store shelves till the spring, anyone who is considering a premium TV purchase should look for deals on 2014's top models as retailers may give these sets an extra discount to make room for 2015's inventory.
That means a TV like the highly-rated Samsung PNF8500, which we listed for $998 last month, could hit an even lower price point as Samsung rolls out its new premium TVs, most of which will boast 4K resolution. To put that into perspective, this model debuted at last CES for $3,099.
Last year, the average deal price of name-brand 55" HDTVs also dropped by 20 percent in January, when compared to November 2013's best price on these TVs. In a similar manner, the average price of 42" 1080p name-brand LCDs also dropped 15 percent. So while January won't see the same spectacular TV lows we saw in November and December, it's still a strong month for name-brand TV deals in general.
New Intel Processor Will Bring Price Cuts on Last Year's Models
Deals on mainstream 15" Core i5 laptops have been hot since the summer, and although prices rose for the first time in six months last month (by $20), these laptops still represent a tremendous value and we expect deal prices to drop again this month.
CES will be a big event for laptops as manufacturers will announce new systems built around Intel's 5th generation processor, Broadwell. The new processor will sip less power than Intel's current Haswell line and therefore provide better battery life and allow for thinner, fanless machines. That means Haswell-based machines are nearing their end of life and retailers will quickly start the fire sale on these laptops (as they did with Ivy Bridge-based machines when Haswell first entered the market). In terms of deals, that means today's mainstream Haswell machines could see additional price cuts of up to 8%.
Retailers have also been very aggressive with deals on budget machines. These dual-core systems are typically powered by an Intel Celeron or Atom processor, both of which provide sufficient muscle for daily tasks, but fall short of the type of power you'd need for gaming or HD editing. Since November, deals on these laptops have dropped as low as $100, making them the cheapest laptops in DealNews history. Prices remained very competitive throughout December, and we expect deals to remain in the $150 range for January.
January is only just one month out of many in which prices will change this year. To make sure you start the year off right, saving the most you possibly can, be sure to peruse our lists on the things that will be more expensive in 2015, as well as the items that will be less expensive. Also set up an email alert to keep abreast of any and all of these best buys in January.
This article originally appeared in Deal News.