The Best and Worst Things to Buy in April

Here is the secret sauce for shopping this month -- from cruises and spring fashion to technology and gardening tools.

This post comes from partner site DealNews.com.

So the month of April brings showers, and then, of course, Tax Day, but it also brings good deals aplenty. Here are best things to buy in April, and purchases to put off:

Spring clothing

The general rule for dressing yourself with deals is to wait about two months after a new season’s apparel hits stores in order to cash in on sizable discounts. Many retailers began debuting their spring merchandise in February, which means April is the two-month mark. You’ll see the warm weather in full effect with deals like sandals at JCPenney for $15 (discounted by $25), polo shirts for $3 (discounted by $9) at Sierra Trading Post, and lots of deals on linen clothing, shorts and more. Discounts of 30 percent on spring items are good, but 50 percent is great if you can find it.

Tax Day freebies

Some stores and restaurants like to take the sting out of paying the tax man by offering you a free treat. (Keep in mind “Tax Day” is Tuesday, April 18, this year.) Look for a free chocolate chip cookie from the Great American Cookie Co. (normally about $1.66 each), and a free shaved ice from Kona Ice (savings of $4). Meanwhile, you can “Sing for Your Supper” — literally — and get a Local Legendary Burger at the Hard Rock Cafe. Plus, office supply chains like Staples also offer free paper shredding for all those who still file via snail mail!

Tax Day travel

Travel deals? Maybe providers figure that weary taxpayers are dreaming of sandy beaches and tropical drinks; for whatever reason, we see a burst of discounts on hotel and vacation package bookings on Tax Day. Travelocity has cut $75 off bookings of $350 or more, and resorts in the Bahamas cut 50 percent off three-night stays (that would save $285 on the booking).

Wherever you’re going, remember that this is the best time to book travel for Memorial Day and Independence Day weekends. Airfares will be an average of $60 more expensive in a month, and will increase in price even faster after that.

Last-minute Caribbean cruises

In addition, this is a great time to book a last-minute cruise through the Caribbean. With a week-long booking for $598 for two, you’ll not only save $60, you’ll avoid overcrowding on family cruises (as families book during summer break) and the uncertainty of hurricane season, which begins in June.

Jewelry, apparel and accessories during Mother’s Day sales

Mother’s Day isn’t until May, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until then to shop. Just the opposite: Mother’s Day sales start in April, with many of them expiring in the first week of May, well before the day itself. We’ve seen as much as 50 percent off women’s watches, shoes, handbags, luggage, apparel and other accessories from great gift retailers like Amazon, Coach, Lands’ End and Michael Kors. Jewelry is especially hot in these sales.

Earth Day freebies

Earth Day is April 22, and many stores like to observe it by giving away environmentally themed items. Check out environmental children’s e-book downloads at Amazon (which also discounted environmentally themed books and movies by up to 50 percent), wildflower seeds from Burt’s Bees, reusable totes at Wegmans, Target and the Disney Store, and free coffee from Starbucks and Caribou Coffee (if you bring in your own tumbler).

And don’t forget to enjoy nature itself as the National Park Service grants free admission to every national park on April 15-16 and 22-23!

Thrift store furniture, appliances and clothing

April is the best month of the year to shop thrift stores. Spring cleaning is real! And as folks clean out their homes, stores will be flooded with more donations than in other months. The Salvation Army even confirms that this is a busier month at its stores. So you won’t necessarily find better prices, but you will find better selection. For extra choice, shop early in the week, when the surge of weekend donations have hit shelves but haven’t yet been picked over by weekend shoppers.

Worst buys of April

Meanwhile, here are some things to avoid buying this month:

Wait until Memorial Day for mattresses, tools and appliances

Department stores almost always roll out special sales for holiday weekends, and Memorial Day usually provides excellent discounts on select home items. If you wait until next month, you’ll find tools that are up to 50 percent off, large appliances about 30 percent off, and on mattresses an extra discount of 10 to 40 percent. In fact, last year, we saw twice as many mattress deals in May as in April. Therefore, any discounts you see this month will very likely get even steeper if you wait.

Laptops

Believe it or not, back to school discounts start as early as June. So if you can wait just two more months, you’ll see prices drop noticeably. We’ve seen 16-inch AMD quad laptops (good entry-level sets) drop $30 in that time, while higher-end gaming laptops dropped from over $1,400 to $1,200.

Gardening tools

Some people think that with the April thaw, gardening deals are hot. And the warmer weather does indeed bring three times as many gardening deals as March — but May will bring four times as many gardening deals as April! To save $2-$8 on mulch and hand tools, and $20-$50 on larger power tools, try to hold off on your gardening purchases.

Running shoes

As with gardening, many people start thinking about jogging come spring. And while some people think this means more shoe deals, we very clearly saw last year that April was the worst month for running shoe deals when compared with March and May. (Probably because stores want to take advantage of impatient runners itching to hit the roads.) Not only will you save up to $8 on entry-level running shoes if you wait until May, you’ll also find bargains on brand names like Reebok, Puma and Saucony, instead of paying the same for off-brand sneakers.

Notable stores to shop in April

  • Academy Sports: As we said, a lot of folks want to enjoy the great outdoors this month, but most stores want to charge full price for running shoes and the like. Check this sporting goods retailer for some of the best prices on running shoes, boots and even fishing line.
  • Jet.com: Always reliable for good deals, this Amazon competitor provides discounts on some in-season items like outdoor furniture and light outerwear that will be full price at most other stores this month.

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