What to Buy (and Skip) in January 2023

Tommy Tindall
By Tommy Tindall 
Edited by Courtney Neidel

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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.

🤓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. In time, you’ll have enough strands to outdo Clark Griswold from "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

Skip: Cameras

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.  

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 you can often score the best bargain on a TV right before the Super Bowl.

The big game is set for Feb. 12. 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 hauling something home. Last year, NordicTrack T Series treadmills were $100 off on Amazon, and Bowflex’s popular SelectTech 552 dumbbells were down to $299.99 from $429.

🤓Nerdy Tip

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.

Skip: Smartwatches

To help readers max out savings, the Nerds tracked the price of the Apple Watch Series 7 and several other popular products on all the major sales days of 2022. Turns out the discounts were less than ideal during January’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day sales, with the price at Walmart and Target higher on that day than on all other sales days tracked. The price of the FitBit Versa 3, which we also tracked, wasn’t at its lowest on the January holiday either. Amazon’s Prime Day (in July last year) was a better time to buy one of these watches.

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, 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. 16. 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.