What to Buy (and Avoid) at After-Christmas Sales


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Traditionally in retail, the week or so after Christmas has been a time to get deep discounts on merchandise leftover from the holiday shopping season. Stores were looking to clear out their stock, and customers were looking for bargains. But the rise in the popularity of online shopping has changed the rules, and forced remaining brick-and-mortar retailers to do the same.

Now you don’t need to wait until Memorial Day or Labor Day to get the best prices on mattresses, for example—there are sales throughout the year. And similarly, after-Christmas discounts aren’t necessarily what they used to be. Still, there are bargains to be had, if you know where to look—and what to avoid.

What to buy from after-Christmas sales

First up, the items that do tend to be a genuinely good value this time of year:

Anything related to Christmas and the other end-of-year holidays

It’s an obvious one, but for good reason: Now is the time to get the best prices on the stuff you won’t need until the 2022 holiday season. This includes wrapping paper, holiday cards, any type of Christmas decor, holiday clothing—you get the picture. The catch is that you have to store all this stuff for 11 months.

Normal items in holiday packaging

Here’s where you can get good prices on stuff you might need and/or use right away (or give as gifts to people you didn’t have a chance to see before Christmas). This would be things like your favorite candy or snacks in holiday-themed packaging (that still have a decent shelf-life), or a holiday gift set full of regular products, like bath bombs, underwear, or nail polish, for example.

Winter clothing

Ugly Christmas sweaters aren’t the only things on sale right now. As Kristin McGrath points out in a blog post for Offers.com, most stores start clearing out their winter clothing in January to make room for the new spring arrivals. This means that things like heavy sweaters, down coats, scarves, hats, gloves, boots, and warm slippers will start dropping in price after the holidays.

What to avoid at after-Christmas sales

On the flip side, here’s what to pass on right now:

Floor models

Sure, you can get great prices on floor models, but that doesn’t make it a good value or investment. “These items have been on display for months, meaning they’ve likely been bumped into by shopping carts and messy children all season, so they won’t be in prime condition,” Emily VanSchmus writes at Better Homes & Gardens.

Anything to do with fitness or exercise

If you’re serious about exercising more in the new year (and not just doing it because the media and marketing experts tell you to), then hold off on buying any equipment, workout clothing or shoes, fitness tracking devices, etc. until a few weeks into 2022, Marketwatch advises. The current prices are retailers’ attempts to cash in on your good intentions.

Things that can’t be returned

If you’re considering buying something through an end-of-year clearance or promotion, read the fine print first to make sure that you have the option of returning the item if it doesn’t work out. Keep in mind that, like the floor models, the merchandise stores are looking to clear this time of year may be the lower-quality dregs of their inventory, or damaged in some way.



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