What to Buy (and Skip) in January 2022

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It’s 2022, and the new normal still feels pretty abnormal. The holiday season came and went, and we all learned a lot about supply chain management. If you’re reading this, you’re likely unfazed by product delays and determined to save a buck in the new year.

The good news is you can count on a few tried and true post-holiday sales, although discounts are likely to vary. Here’s your guide for what to buy (and skip) in January, based on NerdWallet’s analysis of historical sales cycles, along with a little speculation in what’s been an unpredictable retail environment.

Buy: Christmas decorations

It’s no surprise that Christmas decorations go on sale in the days after the holiday. We get that it’s hard to keep the Christmas spirit after the decorations go down, but the savvy shopper restocks in January when retailers let leftovers go for cheap.

Nerdy tip: DIY decorators can shop post-Christmas sales to stock up on fresh sets of lights that will be easy to store and retrieve next year. And after a few years of stocking up, you’ll have enough strands to outdo Clark Griswold from "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

Skip: Furniture

Supply is too limited to feel good about a furniture purchase right now. Yes, some retailers have inventory in stock, but chances are you won’t be able to pick from a wide selection. This could put pressure on you to make a decision now that you’ll regret later. Besides, President’s Day weekend (Feb. 19-21) is often the ideal time to buy furniture during the winter.

Buy: TVs

It’s difficult to think of a time during the year when TVs aren’t popular. Who doesn’t love the look of a 4K flat screen mounted on the wall on any given Sunday afternoon? You’ll be happy to know bigger and cheaper is the recent trend in TVs, according to Consumer Reports. But aside from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can often score the best bargain on a TV right before the Super Bowl.

The big game is set for Feb. 13. You can expect Amazon, Best Buy and other big-box retailers to tee up deals in the weeks before kickoff. As for store stock, both Amazon and Best Buy had plenty of models and sizes to choose from at the time of this writing.

Skip: Gym memberships

It’s common knowledge that gyms meet the influx of aspirational exercisers with membership discounts in January. Also common knowledge: The majority of people fail to stick with their workout-related New Year’s resolutions. Gyms plan for this and tend to sell more memberships than their facilities can accommodate this time of year, says Lars Perner, assistant professor of clinical marketing at the University of Southern California.

We don’t want you to waste your money. That, along with the still very real threat of COVID-19, make gym memberships a “skip” this year.

Buy: Fitness equipment

Exercise equipment goes on sale in January, too. You can expect more worthwhile deals from retailers this year since demand for dumbbells and machines has eased. Another bonus? While it’s not a monetary deal, wait times for popular products are down since early on in the pandemic. For example, Peloton’s Bike and Bike+ are expected to ship within one to two weeks at the time of this writing, down from an estimated eight to 10 weeks a year ago.

Nerdy tip: New exercise bike still too expensive? Check out Facebook Marketplace and other second-hand selling apps like OfferUp and Craigslist for used equipment. And remember, there’s almost always room to negotiate on used items, so go ahead, make an offer.

Skip (for now): Toys

With Christmas over, deals on toys dissipate in January. Skip them for now, but keep an eye out for off-season sales in February and into the spring. “There could be some bargains on things that didn’t make it in time for the holidays,” Perner says. These items could then be unloaded at significant discounts. He suspects toys could fall into this category because the vast majority are imported and intended to be bought as gifts. This may lead to unexpected deals on popular holiday gifts as delayed shipments arrive.

Nerdy tip: If you do spot a good buy on a hot toy, take the deal and hold it for a future gift.

Spot your saving opportunities
See your spending breakdown to show your top spending trends and where you can cut back.

Buy: Bed and bath linens

Department stores made January famous for white sales. They discount bedspreads, sheets, towels and more to make way for new inventory. We’ve seen savings of up to 70% in past years. Check out department store classics like Macy’s, Belk and Dillard’s for good sales.

Shop: Martin Luther King Jr. Day sales

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Jan. 17. Because it’s a three-day weekend for many workers, some retailers offer sales. Look for deals on a range of products, from handbags and winter apparel to home goods and mattresses.

Bonus: National Pie Day

If you resolved to eat healthier this year, mark Jan. 23 as your first “cheat day.” It’s National Pie Day and your chance to score a free slice at participating bakeries and restaurants.

Deal or no deal?

Stay optimistic, but temper expectations this January. Retailers make decisions based on customer demand, and overall demand was strong at the end of 2021. They may test the waters to gauge how willing you are to pay full price in January and then offer discounts as needed, says Simone Peinkofer, assistant professor of supply chain management at Michigan State University.

Be ready to make a game-time decision. “There’s always a risk with that,” Peinkofer says. “To wait or not to wait?”