The Best and Worst Things to Buy in November

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It's a great time to buy cookware, tools, and wedding dresses. But you'll probably want to hold off on toys and tablets.

This post originally came from Lindsay Sakraida at DealNews.

Well, readers, we’ve finally made it to November, one of the happiest months for budget-conscious shopping. Not surprisingly, many items hit their lowest price points this month around Black Friday. But let’s not forget that there are deals to be had all month long, when every day is like Black Friday. Ultimately, though, November isn’t the best time to buy everything, so make sure you peruse our guide for the best and worst options.

Cookware items see strong deals

Rarely do “need” and “best time to buy” so perfectly coalesce. As you prepare to knock the socks off the in-laws this Thanksgiving with an impressive feast, you may discover that there are some holes in your arsenal of cookware. Luckily we saw double the number of Editors’ Choice cookware deals in November last year, when compared to most other months. This trend for “best of the year” prices on cookware held steady through December and even January. However, November specifically sees the greatest number of cookware deals, period: In 2011, there were 35 percent more deals in November than October. Get your mitts on cookware and cutlery sets, bakeware, small appliances, and more.

Say yes to tools and hardware deals

While tool and hardware deals in both November and December of last year were slightly underwhelming compared to years past, both months were still far superior to the rest of the year. On average, November and December featured double the number of Editors’ Choice tool deals. Keep an eye out for significant discounts on wrench and screwdriver sets, drills, lawn care tools, and more, from stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Harbor Freight Tools, and Sears.

An opportunity for Apple discounts

Year after year, Apple takes 5 to 10 percent off iPads, iPods, MacBooks, and iMacs during its Black Friday sale. However, third-party merchants usually undercut Apple’s small discounts with greater promotions. Expect resellers like Amazon, MacMall, and MacConnection to take up to 20 percent or more off a number of Apple products. Moreover, last year we saw quite a few price cuts on the iPad 2, and we’re anticipating the same this year. So while the iPad mini won’t be discounted, the iPad 2 could fall to $299. Meanwhile, any remaining stock of the third-generation iPads (released in July and made obsolete in September) could fall to $449 at least.

A crowded market might not equal
 great tablet deals

Aside from the aforementioned iPad deals, buzzworthy tablets might not actually see great deals this Black Friday. Sure, the small tablet market is more competitive, with Amazon Kindle Fire HD, Google Nexus 7, Barnes & Noble NOOK HD, and Apple iPad mini options, but the first three are already astonishingly cheap for their build; it’s rumored that each of the manufacturers actually loses money on their production, and hopes to make up for it through continued media sales. Therefore, there isn’t much room for discounts, and the best we might see in terms of tablet deals this Black Friday will likely be promotions that bundle these devices with a sizable gift card or credit. On the Apple front, because the iPad mini is brand new there’s little chance that it’ll see any price drop at all.

Current season apparel, the good and the bad

Last month we noted that winter season apparel items will likely see their greatest sales beginning in January. However, last year, a number of apparel stores offered their best online coupons of the year in the weeks leading up to (and around) Black Friday, and most stacked with existing sales and markdowns. Expect to see an abundance of “best of the year” coupons that take 20 to 40 percent off, with some reaching even higher discounts.

Time to bargain for a wedding dress

According to the author of “Bridal Bargains,” November and December are excellent months to shop for a wedding dress, because there is a decrease in demand during the holidays; women just aren’t interested in shopping for a dress during this typically busy season. That means you have ample opportunity to bargain with the boutique.

Candy that’s guilt-free (pricewise)

A sugary stock of candy will help keep many a shopper’s blood sugar up during the coming weeks of intense shopping, and luckily the best time to buy Halloween items, including candy, starts Nov. 1. While it may be hard to get excited about a discounted costume you can’t (acceptably) wear again until next year, you can easily stock up on Halloween candy for immediate consumption. Is a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the shape of a pumpkin any less delicious? We think not!

‘Tis not yet the season for toys

With all the holiday shopping you’ll likely be doing at the end of this month, you may start to get overly confident and think, “I can save on toys for the kids too!” As we reported a few weeks ago, however, the best time to get the greatest discounts on toys for the holidays is during the 14 days leading up to Christmas. However, you will still see Black Friday discounts of up to 50 percent for toys and up to 75 percent off video games, making the shopping holiday not too shabby if you’d rather get the kids’ gifts wrapped and under the tree earlier.

It’s time for turkey!

This month, many grocery stores will offer a free turkey to shoppers who meet a minimum purchase, ranging from $200 to $400. While you certainly shouldn’t increase your spending just to get one, many families can easily hit that minimum throughout the month, as several stores will allow shoppers to combine totals from several trips. Ask your local supermarkets what promotions they offer, and remember to save your receipts.

Many HDTVs close to all-time lows

November is prime shopping season for most consumer electronics. HDTVs in particular are expected to hit record-breaking lows, and based on the best deals we saw in late October, it’s looking like this November won’t disappoint. While deals aren’t as low as our predictions just yet, name-brand 42-inch, 55-inch, and 60-inch LCD HDTVs reached lows we haven’t seen since the start of 2012. In fact, all three categories hit their second-lowest prices of the year last month. At $332, 42-inch TVs were just $2 higher than their all-time 2012 low and both 55-inch and 60-inch TVs were within a buck of their best price of the year at $800 and $900, respectively.

Keep in mind that our Black Friday predictions take third-tier brands into account, so we expect deals to get considerably lower across the board with 42-inch HDTVs hitting $189, 55-inch HDTVs at $789, and 60-inch HDTVs at $719. Also remember that higher-end TVs will likely see their rock-bottom prices in December through January, rather than on Black Friday.

Budget laptops near Black Friday predictions

This month we predict budget laptops will hit prices lower than the cheapest tablet available today, and so far prices are on track to achieve just that. Last month budget dual-core laptops hit $218, which is the lowest price we’ve seen on them all year. (For those keeping track, it’s also just $39 away from our Black Friday prediction of $179.) Mainstream 15-inch Core i5 Ivy Bridge systems are also holding steady at their second-lowest price of the year at $450.

Unfortunately, we don’t expect to see many deals on Windows 8 ultrabook hybrids. These machines are expected to remain significantly higher than traditional laptops, though we wouldn’t be surprised to see gift card bundles from the likes of Amazon, Best Buy, and the Microsoft Store. Nevertheless, we believe these new machines will drive prices of Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge laptops down even further.

Stacy Johnson

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