ATLANTA - It's December, the malls are bustling and "Sale" signs are everywhere. Good time to grab the deals? Not so fast.
Savvy shoppers should realize that some items are actually a better deal after the holiday season. As long as it's not something that has to be under the tree on Dec. 25, here's a look at purchases best made in the new year.
— BIG-NAME TVS AND ELECTRONICS: Sure electronics retailers have pulled out all the stops with doorbuster deals on big flat-screen TVs. But those are often second- or third-tier brands.
If you're looking for top-brand TVs or TVs with extra features, the best time to buy is February or March, says Lindsay Sakraida, features director at DealNews.com, which tracks online prices and sales. Why? Because generally new electronics models are introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show, the largest electronics industry trade show, which occurs in Las Vegas in January. After that, last year's models go on sale.
The same holds true with other electronics, notably the expensive digital SLR cameras from companies like Nikon and Canon. Those are popular Christmas items, but "if you can, it's wise to wait," Sakraida says.
— WINTER WEAR: Clothes and accessories are popular for people shopping for themselves, with big markdowns in the mall leading up to Christmas. But if you hold out, you will see even better discounts, beginning immediately after Christmas. That's because retailers have to clear out winter merchandise quickly to get ready for the influx of spring clothes.
"Anything cold weather-related is certainly going to get dramatically reduced post-Christmas," says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group. That's true for footwear like boots, and coats, gloves and scarves.
But Cohen says on most other clothing items, it may not pay to wait. Even though prices will be low, you'll be picking over remnants.
"There's really low product, and it's really shopworn" after Christmas, he says.
— FURNITURE: Similar to electronics, home furniture is seasonal too. But furniture makers release new models in February, so stores need to make room in advance. Thus January is an excellent time to get good discounts, Sakraida says.
— FITNESS GEAR: Unlike other items on the list, fitness gear tends to be a better deal in January not because its peak selling season is over, but because it's just beginning.
With many Americans trying to stick to New Year's Resolutions to get in shape and lose weight in January, fitness equipment and accessories makers slash prices to drive sales during their peak demand season.
— CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS: You might not be thinking of stocking up on holiday decor just after the holiday ends — but that's the best time to do it, Sakraida says. Christmas decor is usually 75 percent off after Christmas.
Even if those lights or ornaments sit around all year, they'll be just as good next year. It's also a great time to buy a new artificial tree if you notice this year that yours is falling apart, Sakraida says.
"You can save several hundred dollars by buying it now (rather than) waiting until next December to buy it at its highest price point," she says.
"The decorations aren't going to change," adds Cohen. "Retailers start preparing for the next holiday the day after Christmas, so consumers should, too."