What to Buy (and Skip) in December 2023

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Edited by Kirsten VerHaar
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What to Buy (and Skip) in December

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Eight of the 10 busiest shopping days of the year for in-store traffic fall in December. That’s according to retail traffic consulting and analytics group Sensormatic Solutions


Add online sales to the mix, and December is a full-on retail frenzy. All that shopping gives retailers good reason to keep the discounts flowing right up until the end.

Before you set out on last-minute shopping expeditions this month, consult our list of what to buy (and skip) to save time and money.

Buy: Toys

If your son or daughter is asking for toys or cuddly stuffed animals this year, it’s wise to buy in late December when discounts are likely to be better.

Expect great sales close to Dec. 25. Christmas falls on a Monday this year, which should make Dec. 23 — Super Saturday, as it’s known — as busy as expected, and hopefully flush with last-minute bargains. If you’re planning to venture out, you might find a good price on toys retailers are set on selling.

Skip: Bedding

Cold weather may have you craving a new set of flannel sheets, but don’t throw out your old linens yet. Historically, the best pricing on bedding and linens happens in January during retail “white sales.” Towel and bedding sales take place at department stores and online.

The savings are usually substantial. In the past, Joss & Main offered up to 60% off patterned and multicolored bedding picks. Pottery Barn shoppers could save 20% on bedding, towels and more.

Buy: Sporting goods

Sporty stuff always has a place under the tree for athletes and fans alike. Did you know a real-deal, official NFL football retails for nearly $150? If you don’t want to spend that kind of money on a ball, look for gear deals in December. To be extra specific, Dec. 4 will be the day for the deepest discounts on sporting goods and fitness equipment during the holiday season, according to the retail analytics arm of software company Adobe.

Get the kids some cleats, or treat yourself to a new driver or putter. Check out a big-box store like Dick’s Sporting Goods, or go directly to sporting goods brands’ websites.

Skip: TVs

December isn’t a bad month to buy a TV, but you probably could have done better in November, on or around Black Friday. You’ll find TV deals this month too, but those who can hold out a bit longer will be rewarded with great prices leading up to the Super Bowl. Check for TV discounts in January and the first couple of days of February.

Buy: Christmas decorations

The best discounts on holiday decorations will be after Christmas, when big-box chains and department stores drastically cut prices (sometimes by as much as 80%) on artificial trees, ornaments, wrapping paper, stockings and other seasonal staples.

But if you want to buy some last-minute Christmas necessities for this year, expect discounts to increase as the holiday nears. In the past, some Christmas closeout sales began Dec. 24.

Skip: Leaf blowers and string trimmers

You’d think dropping temps in colder-weather states would make December a good month to pick up leaf blowers and weed eaters, but there are better times to buy. It’s best to buy string trimmers in the spring and leaf blowers in both early spring and fall, according to Consumer Reports. That said, there’s no harm in scanning home store circulars for lawn tool bargains because nothing is off limits when it comes to holiday sales.

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Eat: Cookies

If you welcome any excuse to woof down a cookie or two, how about getting one for free? Dec. 4 is National Cookie Day, and cookie shops will celebrate with sweet deals and freebies.

Last year, some stores offered free or discounted cookies to celebrate. Look for similar offers this year from your favorite grocery stores and dessert brands.