The Best and Worst Things to Buy in January

This post comes from Benjamin Glaser of partner site DealNews.com.

It’s the new year, and you might be suffering from a post-holiday spending hangover. While it’s a great time to make sensible financial New Year’s resolutions, you still need to buy all of life’s essentials. Maybe you even held off on major purchases until the after-Christmas sales kicked in. Fortunately, you can shop in January and still start 2017 with a flush wallet.

Check out our list of the best and worst things to buy in January, which we compiled from our extensive archives.

7 good buys this month:

1. Fitness equipment

Looking to start the new year with a new physique? Retailers are there for you, offering deals on sports and fitness equipment. NordicTrack offered one of the best site-wide sales we’d seen, at up to 50 percent off. Many other retailers, such as Running Warehouse and Cabela’s, offered deals comparable to the ones we saw from them during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Sales included everything from bats and balls to free weights. Fitness trackers are still a popular item, though less so as smartwatches have become more widespread.

This is also traditionally a good time to get deals on gym memberships. Look for gyms to lower or completely waive sign-up fees; if they don’t outright offer it, ask for it. The best deals will also give you a month or even two months for free. If you’re willing to pay for a full year upfront, the gym is more likely to be receptive to your requests for discounts.

2. Winter apparel

Apparel deals notably dominate after-Christmas sales. Last year we saw sales that were either the best or tied for it from Nike, Gap Factory, Brooks Brothers, Tory Burch, Nautica and many more. Winter coats, sweaters, hats and gloves will see even deeper discounts now than they did for Black Friday. In 2016, sales went as high as 70 percent off select items with most discounts around 40 percent or 50 percent, plus additional discounts on clearance items.

3. National park visits

Jan. 16 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and in celebration all 409 national parks will feature free admission. While a large number of our parks are already free of charge, notable parks 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.

4. Early Valentine’s Day gifts

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Fortunately, January sees numerous discounts on diamonds and pearls from retailers like Szul and WinPearl. And lots of those department store end-of-year sales will include jewelry and accessories.

Also, keep an eye out for Valentine’s Day flower sales from 1-800-Flowers and Teleflora to start just before the end of the month, as well as chocolate sales from Harry & David and Godiva. These sales will cut 20 percent to 25 percent site wide, or will offer free shipping (or both).

5. Christmas decor

We know the timing is far from ideal, but January is a great month to buy Christmas decorations. Try to think ahead and stock up for next year! Last year, we saw tons of post-Christmas decor clearances from Lowe’s, the Home Depot, Target and Pottery Barn. Most cut up to 70 percent off the seasonal inventory, with some going as high as 89 percent. Look for discounted trees, lights, ornaments, inflatable lawn figures, stockings, model villages and more.

6. Watches

January is a better than usual time to buy watches, with twice the number of Editors’ Choice deals than average. This is largely due to a ton of deals from Ashford (see below), but we also saw stellar offerings last year from JomaShop, Rue La La, Amazon, the Watchery and various eBay sellers. These included discounts on everything from affordable Casio and Timex pieces, to mid-range Hamilton, Raymond Weil and Movado items, and even a few deals on Rolex and TAG Heuer.

7. Linens, bedding and towels

January is traditionally the time for “white sales” from department stores on bed linens. At least one historian says the practice began in 1878 with John Wanamaker, an innovative merchant and marketer; he wanted to spur business during the slow winter months (apparently that post-holiday slump has been around for a while), so he discounted bed linens, which at the time were only available in white.

Look to Wayfair, JCPenney, L.L.Bean and Target for around 50 percent off all your bedding needs. The practice has expanded to usually include towels, and sometimes even other bathroom and kitchen necessities.

3 purchases to wait on:

1. Electronics and computers

Though the Consumer Electronics Show in January usually leads to discounts on Android phones and high-end TVs, our data show that electronics deals as a whole are better in February. This is likely due to the fact that stores are trying to bring shoppers back with President’s Day sales, and all those 2016 tech models are about to be replaced on the shelves. Look for discounts on everything from USB storage drives to Apple Watches then.

2. Inauguration merchandise

As with any seasonal item, you’ll be able to pick up presidential inauguration merchandise for a song after the event itself. So just like it pays to wait until a sport’s season is over to buy gear, wait until Jan. 21 or later for commemorative souvenirs and apparel.

3. Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo and Echo Dot speakers/personal assistants flew off shelves during the holiday season. The full-size Echo is out of stock until January 26, and the smaller Dot was sold out for much of December. Though you can order both now, with such demand, there is little incentive for Amazon or any other store carrying the device to offer a discount until the fervor dies down.

Top 5 stores to shop in January

Beyond the categories above, there were five stores that really shone last year for sales during the first month of the year. We expect these retailers to offer top deals again this January.

The Home Depot: Check out their overstock, outdoor and winter storage sales for discounts of up to 75 percent.

JCPenney: Winter apparel deals are even better now than over Black Friday, so pick up a new parka as this department store cuts over 77 percent off.

Ashford: This watch site’s Winter Clearance brought price lows on brands like Seiko and Bulova.

Jos. A. Bank: Between after-Christmas sales and Super Tuesday sales, we saw plenty of price lows on sweaters and pants at this menswear store.

B&H Photo Video: This store was a hotbed for deals on Android devices last year.

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