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The holiday shopping season may be over, but January gets things going again with some tried and true sales. Here’s your guide for what to buy (and skip) this month, based on NerdWallet’s analysis of historical sales cycles, along with a little speculation about what’s been an up-and-down 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.
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.
Mirrorless, DSLRs and action cameras are awesome tech for photography hobbyists and YouTube creators alike, but if you didn’t get yours over the holidays, it’s probably best to wait. Maybe you don’t need one because your smartphone does it all. But if you do, February is the next best time to buy a camera, according to Consumer Reports. Wait until May for a new action cam, like a GoPro or Insta360.
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 you can often score the best bargain on a TV right before the Super Bowl.
The big game is set for Feb. 11. You can expect Amazon, Best Buy and other big-box retailers to tee up deals in the weeks before kickoff.
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, so it’s a "skip" for us. But if you insist, opt for a month-to-month plan.
Buy: Fitness equipment
Exercise equipment goes on sale in January, too. And you can have heavy equipment delivered to ease the burden of hauling something home. Don’t expect earth-shattering sales on the highest-rated equipment, but you should be able to save at least $100 on a new treadmill.
Check out Facebook Marketplace and other secondhand selling apps like OfferUp and Craigslist for a deal on a piece of equipment that’s been sitting in someone’s basement. And always offer a bit lower than what the seller is asking.
The Nerds tracked the price of Apple’s AirPods Pro and the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones, along with several other popular products, on every major sale holiday of 2023. The discounts on those headphone models were lackluster during January’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day sales. The price of each model was significantly lower on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Buy: Bed and bath linens
Department stores made January famous for white sales, when bedspreads, sheets, towels and more are discounted to make way for new inventory. We’ve seen savings of up to 70% in past years. Check the mainstays like Macy’s, Belk and Dillard’s for sales.
Shop: Martin Luther King Jr. Day sales
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Jan. 15. Because it’s a three-day weekend for many, some retailers feature sales. Look for deals on a range of products, from handbags and winter apparel to home goods and electronics.
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.