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Have you ever bought something at full price, only for you to kick yourself after seeing it marked down a few days later? Or ever wished you could look into a crystal ball and see when that perfect pair of boots will be on sale? Well, we can't quite see into the future (yet) — but we have something pretty close: Access to people whose very jobs it is to analyze market trends and make very (very, very) good projections on when you can anticipate stuff to be marked down. To get the scoop, we chatted with Julie Ramhold, Consumer Analyst with DealNews.com, on the smartest things to shop in February.
What To Buy: Love Month
"Unsurprisingly, anything red, pink, or white, as well as heart-shaped, will be trending in February as Valentine's Day grows closer," says Ramhold. "Whether you're looking for treats, stuffed animals, or jewelry, plenty of retailers will be pushing these kinds of items hard for the first half of the month and putting a big focus on love in general."
However, as any savvy shopper (or anyone who has ever walked into a Duane Reade post-V-day) will know, you can always expect major (read: half off and above) markdowns after the holiday has passed. "The Valentine's Day hype is real, but the best time to buy, in my opinion, is definitely February 15," Ramhold says. "That's when heart-shaped candies and boxes of chocolates will see immediate markdowns of around 50% initially, so it's the perfect day to stock up. If you wait any longer, discounts may get better, but you also risk missing out on the really good items, so if you're hoping to stock up on Reese's Hearts, don't wait any longer than the 15th to do so." Wise words!
What To Buy: Cozy Clothing
"For some, it may seem like winter will never end, but spring is just around the corner and retailers are already stocking shelves with new spring wardrobe picks," says Ramhold. "Because of that, all the winter weather coziness is being moved to sale and clearance racks. Look for sweaters, coats, and boots, but even denim picks like jeans could be found for less this month." If you're not seeing anything you love upfront, wait for Presidents' Day sales to kick off — plenty of clothing retailers will be participating in those and could offer 50% off or more on a variety of new looks.
What To Buy: A New Mattress
"This is another big-ticket item that Presidents' Day sales are known for offering serious savings on every year," Ramhold explains. "It's one of the best times of year to buy a new mattress, and plenty of retailers will be participating, offering as much as $1,000 off in some cases." However, if you're not seeing steep discounts on your favorite brands, Ramhold recommends keeping an eye out for free gifts with purchase that help you get the most bang for your buck: "Some specialty retailers offer extra perks like free pillows as part of package deals," she says.
What To Buy: Workout Clothes & Gear
"Most savvy shoppers are probably well aware of the fact that fitness items of all kinds trend at the start of the year, but by February many have probably forgotten about these kinds of things already," Ramhold says. "However, retailers are aware of this, and as they get ready for spring items, we tend to see different stores offer up everything from workout gear like exercise balls to activewear and athletic shoes at notable discounts." And pro tip, act fast if you see something good on sale. "Watch for clearance-level prices on these kinds of products, and grab them while you can as we won't see another activewear push until June," Ramhold explains.
What To Buy: New Tech
"This is another thing that has started to creep into Presidents' Day sales, which may come as a surprise to some shoppers who are used to seeing the focus of these events be more geared towards bigger ticket home items," says Ramhold. "But in recent years, we've seen excellent savings on things like laptops and desktop computers, accessories, and even things like headphones." What to keep an eye out for, according to Ramhold: Brand-specific deals from places like Lenovo, HP, and Dell, in addition to major retailers like Best Buy.
Honorable Mention — What To Skip: Upgrading Your TV
"Thanks to the Super Bowl, TVs are another item that's heavily featured at the beginning of February," says Ramhold. "It can be pretty tempting to upgrade your set, but unless you have a specific model in mind and see that it has a noteworthy discount, you may be better off waiting for holiday sales." Her one caveat? "Presidents' Day may bring better discounts in some cases, but Black Friday in November is still the best time to pick up a new set due to the sheer volume of models on sale and the wide range of discounts." The big takeaway: "It's relatively safe to ignore the Super Bowl hype and wait for the sales later in the month."