The Very Best Things to Buy in April — and Purchases to Put Off

This post comes from Ben Glaser at partner site DealNews.

April shopping time is here, and we’ve scoped out all the best deals online and in-store. To help guide you toward savvy purchases, we dug through the DealNews archives from years past to see what goods are, well, good to buy in April, and what you should hold off on purchasing. From early spring apparel sales to Tax Day freebies, here’s what’s in store this month for the smart shopper.

Midseason clothing sales coming to a retailer near you

The general rule for dressing yourself in deals is to wait about two months after a new season of apparel hits stores before cashing in on sizable discounts. Many retailers began debuting their spring merchandise in February, which means April is the two-month mark. Expect moderate discounts that take 15 percent to 30 percent off; any spring clothing sale that slashes 40 percent to 50 percent off current season items will be exceptional, because otherwise, 50 percent-off discounts won’t materialize until May or later.

And speaking of clothing, you’re running out of time to shop for clearance-level discounts on winter items. The winter season was relatively mild this year, leaving retailers saddled with all kinds of cold-weather clothing and accessories. With spring temperatures here in full force (barring any late-season snowfall), they’ll be even more eager to clear out this inventory.

Get your fill of Tax Day freebies

There are few people in this world who don’t appreciate getting something for free, and one of the most popular days for restaurants to offer something gratis takes place in April: Tax Day. Fast food and nationwide chains in particular offer free food on April 15. (Though April 15 traditionally is Tax Day, this year taxes are due on April 18.) If the Tax Day freebies are anything like last year’s crop, then you should be on the lookout for opportunities to get a free cup of coffee, free breakfast foods, or free side orders or desserts with the purchase of an entree. Note that sit-down restaurants are likely to require a purchase, whereas fast food locations might not require one.

For the best Apple Watch deals, do not buy from Apple

No one was surprised when Apple introduced new watch bands at its recent event, but the company did catch many off-guard by slashing the starting price of the Apple Watch by $50 to $299. However, we’ve seen the smartwatch available pretty regularly for $249 from resellers like Target and Best Buy, with refurbs priced as low as $200. As usual, we recommend you not buy directly from Apple and look for discounts at certified resellers. Target has consistently offered $100 off the Apple Watch, so keep an eye out for it to drop to $199 there.

Wait two months for deals on the new iPad Pro

Apple also introduced a new 9.7-inch iPad Pro with prices starting at $599, and we’ve actually already seen our first discount on the tablet. But this deal takes a meager $31 off one of the higher end models, bundled with AppleCare+, bringing it to $938. We expect the deals to get much better by summer.

Normally, iPads are introduced in October, right before Black Friday; if we exclude the usual holiday discounts that Apple tablets tend to see, then the first iPad deals usually come two months after the release — and are modest. Thus, we anticipate seeing the entry-level 9.7-inch iPad Pro for as low as $527 by the end of May. But if you wait an additional two months, you can expect to see the tablet starting from $467.

It pays to buy the more expensive iPhone SE

For its new iPhone SE, Apple skipped over a 32GB model, offering just a 16GB handset for $399 and a 64GB for $499. As any frustrated Apple fan (or gloating Samsung fan) will tell you, iPhones don’t feature expandable memory, so if 16GB isn’t enough for your storage needs, then the base model isn’t a good deal. But ultimately, $100 isn’t that much more to pay for four times the storage space. So if price is less of a concern for you, go for the 64GB phone; when other people have long filled up their 16GB phones, you’ll feel much better that you did.

If $499 for 64GB is too high a price to swallow, keep in mind that discounts on iPhones often occur just days after release. We expect to see discounts on the SE soon, and we will keep you posted. Also, look for discounts on the now discontinued iPhone 5s.

Android smartphones continue to shine

Several flagship Android phones were announced late in February, and as they start to make it to the market, previous generation models will see clearance pricing. Both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge+, for example, have dropped to just $1 with a two-year contract, since the S7 is due for release soon. (For what it’s worth, Target is offering the S7 for preorder bundled with a $100 gift card.)

Look for other notable Android and Windows phones to drop significantly in price, or even to be free with a contract renewal. These deals can pop up at any time from a variety of sellers, so keep an eye on our weekly roundup of the best phone deals to find the model of your dreams.

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 for about 30 percent off, and mattresses that get an extra discount of 10 percent to 40 percent off. In fact, for the past few years, we’ve seen much deeper discounts on mattresses in May than in April. Therefore, any discounts you see this month will very likely get even steeper if you wait.

Book your vacation to Cuba

The president went, so why not you? With relations between the United States and Cuba normalizing after 60 years, the first travel providers are opening up travel packages to the island nation. We’ve already seen a four-night escorted trip for two for $3,438 — a deal that apparently sold out quickly. Still, prices are sure to drop further as more options become available, and you may want to beat the rush of tourists and development.

If you prefer to stay domestic, American and Southwest are offering some noteworthy fares, dropping below even their bare-bones budget competitors Frontier and Spirit. In recent weeks, Southwest has offered one-way fares from $36, and American has started at $35.

Also, now is an amazing time to book a Canadian getaway. With the U.S. dollar rallying and the Canadian loonie’s value at a 12-year low, it’s like everything is on sale for Americans visiting our Northern neighbor. And that includes airfares, which Consumer Reports says have dropped 15 percent in the last two years.

Brand-name 55-inch TVs remain the best value

Once again, with TV deals relatively sparse this season, name-brand 55-inch TVs are your best bet. In the last month, we’ve seen 1080p sets for as little as $435. Even 4K has been producing some pretty good deals as it becomes more mainstream, with deals from $700. Be sure to look for last year’s models, as they’ll be discounted to make way for 2016 sets.

Hold off on laptops until back-to-school time

Laptop deals are scattered at this point, and big sales are in sight. Back-to-school deals start in June and get better throughout the summer, and you don’t have to be a student to take advantage of many of them.

If you do need a computer this month, look for a 16-inch laptop with an Intel Core i5 Broadwell or Skylake processor for around $400. Budget builds with less powerful Celeron, Bay Trail, or Ivy Bridge processors are priced for around $200, while gaming rigs with i7 processors and discrete graphics can be had for closer to $700.

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