Whether you want to spend freshly opened gift cards or just see what’s on sale, here are a few suggestions for navigating this year’s post-holiday shopping:
Where to buy:
Clothing and department stores are known for major after-Christmas sales. Several will have store-wide sales with up to 50 or 60 percent off. Make sure to check the clearance section, as many stores will take an additional percentage off already marked-down items.
Home improvement stores will discount inventory to clear the shelves quickly. Deals can be found on everything from lawn decorations to artificial trees and lighting.
Retailers aren’t the only ones offering year-end deals. Check travel websites to see if there are any great coupon codes or sales on flights and vacation packages. You might be ready to get out of town as the winter weather sets in.
You don’t necessarily have to hit the stores, or even leave the house, for the matter, to take advantage of sales. Take a look at your favorite coupon and deal website for a round-up of the best after-Christmas sales. It can be a relaxing activity for the days leading up to New Year’s Eve.
What to buy:
Christmas-themed items such as décor, ornaments, gift wrap and greeting cards will be marked down significantly in the days following the holiday. You can stock up for next year at a quarter of the usual cost. Take inventory at home first to see what you need. Otherwise, it’s easy to be tempted to overspend because of the rock bottom prices.
Items that were marketed as gifts during the shopping season, such as winter wear sets, food gift baskets, perfume gift boxes and anything in holiday colors will definitely see a drop in price. If the item can last for a year in your closet, then you might even want to consider getting a jump start on next year’s shopping lists.
Toys will also be on sale, especially those with tons of inventory that didn’t sell as well as expected. If you are looking to make a charitable contribution before the end of the year, consider buying some of these discounted toys to donate to shelters or toy drives.
Think ahead to your non-holiday gifting opportunities throughout the upcoming year: Do you have any weddings, graduations, new babies or milestone birthdays on the calendar? Take advantage of end-of-year sales and make room in next year’s budget.
Lastly, if you’re in the market for a new car, the last week of the year is a good time to do it. Dealerships are looking to clear the lot of this year’s cars before 2016, so your haggling will go further. As at any time of year, be sure to do your research ahead of time so you have a solid sense of price comparisons.
What not to buy:
Electronics will be marked down, but it’s best to wait until January. At the Consumer Electronics Show, new models will be announced and last year’s models will go on sale to make room for products on the shelves.
Televisions will be heavily discounted in January leading up to the Super Bowl. Hold off on buying fitness equipment until January, too. While many people are making New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, stores will discount their inventory on items such as treadmills, stationary bikes and home gyms to compete for your business.
In the case of the unwanted gift card, there are now tons of options for exchanging your card for another store’s or even getting cash instead. “Gift Card Exchange Day” is an annual event the day after Christmas; you can check out giftcardexchangeday.com to learn about your options.
Though the last week of the year will hold a lot of great sales, don’t forget to check in on your budget first and see what you can afford. After the holiday shopping season, the most frugal decision may be to simply enjoy the weekend and give your wallet a break!