The Best Things to Buy in January

This post by Lindsay Sakraida comes from partner site Dealnews.

After all your holiday shopping, you may be looking forward to a month without having to whip out your credit card. But January is an excellent month to bag deals on select items, like winter apparel or fitness equipment. So before you resign yourself to steering clear of stores altogether this month, check out our list of the best and worst things to buy in January.

Get an early start on Valentine’s Day gifts

Since we’re currently in the daze of post-Christmas clear-out, take this opportunity to jump on female-friendly gifts that can translate into thoughtful items for the apple of your eye come Valentine’s Day. Typically, deals on jewelry and fragrances right before Valentine’s Day aren’t particularly good. 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’ve seen since Christmas.

Steep savings on Christmas goods

Who cares if it has a Santa Claus on the tin? Heavily discounted goodies abound this month from Starbucks, Cheryl’s, Walmart, Godiva, and more. Start 2013 with something sweet, even if it temporarily interferes with your New Year’s resolution to get in shape. Beyond these sugary goods, decorations too will see strong sales, with discounts of up to 80 percent off at stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Kohl’s, Pier 1, and more.

Make way for furniture

While November sees the highest number of furniture deals of the year, January comes in at a close second. Several manufacturers will release new styles in February, and retailers will need to clear out old, bulky inventory. Thus, you’ll see some of the most significant price cuts of the year in January and February. Last year, we saw such deals from Sears, Pottery Barn, and Home Depot.

Visit nearly 400 national parks, free of charge

January 21 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and in celebration, all 398 national parks will feature free admittance all day long. 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. The National Parks Service doesn’t offer another fee-free day until late April.

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, and discounts spill over into February. Look for stationary bikes, treadmills, elliptical trainers, complete home gyms, and training accessories and DVDs that are marked 15 percent to 60 percent off.

Keep an eye out for early tax software deals

This month, we will start seeing sales that take up to 35 percent off tax filing software, and while last year the number of Editors’ Choice offers was slightly higher in the following months, not everyone wants to put off the daunting task just to get a better deal. That said, keep an eye out specifically for deals that discount state filing; many services offer free filing for federal tax returns, but they “get you” when it comes to state returns, which will cost you an additional fee. One of the best deals we saw last year for a deal that included both federal and state filings ($8 from TaxACT) didn’t come until late February.

Spring for winter apparel

Many after-Christmas sales focused on winter apparel discounts, but many of those retailers will offer stronger sales and bigger coupons in January. Expect sales that take up to 80 percent off merchandise, and look for stacking coupons that slash up to an extra 60 percent off. Among the stronger sales we saw in January last year included Editors’ Choice-caliber discounts from Ann Taylor and LOFT, Nike, Men’s Wearhouse, Tommy Hilfiger, Lord & Taylor, Banana Republic, French Connection, Target, American Eagle, Macy’s, Old Navy, L.L. Bean, and J. Crew.

HDTVs see another round of discounts

Although Black Friday is traditionally the prime shopping season for all things tech, the start of the new year can also ring in some extra savings. Last year, for instance, 55-inch LCD HDTV deals were 17 percent cheaper in January than they were in December. Likewise, 46-inch to 47-inch LCD HDTVs also dropped an extra 5 percent during the month of January. The reason? Each year, most gadget manufacturers convene in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, where they unveil their 2013 lineup. Retailers are thus selling off their 2012 stock at deep discounts, which means another round of excellent, post-Christmas HDTV deals. These discounts will also continue into February.

Strong holiday laptop deals could mean extra cuts in January

Last year we saw no significant price difference between laptop deals in December and January. From desktop replacements to mainstream 16″ Core i5-based systems, deals remained unchanged from December through January. This year, however, we predict that deals could drop a little further. For instance, 16-inch Core i5 Ivy Bridge laptops fell to an unprecedented $360 in November. As a result, discounts could trickle into the month of January.

Also worth noting is the fact that chip-maker AMD continues to struggle as analysts question whether the company can afford to continue being in the PC chip-making business. Whether or not this evolves into price cuts on AMD-based laptops is yet to be seen, but still a possible scenario.

Electronics clearance sales will grow stronger next month

Just as TVs will see a new round of discounts due to CES, so too will other electronics, as retailers will begin to put old models on clearance in an attempt to make room for the incoming stock. This will include the higher-end items that were largely excluded from the Black Friday mayhem. While we’ll start to see these deals in the end of January, we’ll see an even greater number in February as well.

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