Best things to buy in January, and for 2012


Home sales at the end of January can be a good time to jump on early savings on gifts you want to give to brides.

If the holiday hoopla has you all shopped out, you’re not alone.

“January is really, truly the slowest month of the year for retail sales,” said Dan Butler of the National Retail Federation, “but there is some activity.”

If Santa didn’t get you everything you wanted, or you’re on a mission to stimulate the economy, here are a few best buys this month, plus a look ahead at this new year:

Home decor: People are taking down Christmas decorations, rearranging furniture and reassessing the state of their homes this time of year. All that spurs white sales by month’s end, Butler said.

“The other thing that helps to drive sales all through the spring season is people who got engaged over Christmas or New Year’s often will register at the stores,” Butler said, “so the home sales can be a good time to jump on early savings on gifts [people] want to give to brides.”

Cars: If you’re seeking a 2011 automobile, consider shopping at the end of this month. “Through January, they’ll continue to be very aggressive with last year’s models,” Butler said, so dealers can focus on 2012 models.

He also says not to worry too much about the “depreciation” of a new car over the past year — it’s been sitting on the lot, not racing across the country.

“From a practical standpoint, for you it’s still new,” Butler said. “I don’t think there’s a downside, because you still get the warranty on the car for the time that you have it. So you’re actually getting an extra year of warranty on it.

“The thing about buying a car nowadays is it’s a pretty good bet the car’s in good shape, and it’s going to last.” Bottom line: The longer you own your car, the less depreciation matters.

Also keep an eye on: Cosmetic gift sets, coats, hats, gloves, scarves and other fall clearance items.

Costing less this year

Wine: “Wine shops are having a hard time moving inventory above $30,” said’s Lindsay Sakraida. She thinks brands will have to start targeting a younger, possibly less-affluent crowd, which means a drop in price. (Read DealNews’ “12 things that will be less expensive in 2012.”

GPS units: “The smartphone is sort of killing off demand for these types of products,” Sakraida said. Not that a GPS wouldn’t be more convenient (and safer) in the car, but many people have a low price threshold for a service they already receive through their phone. She said systems with lifetime traffic and map updates are starting to offer more competitive pricing to stay in the game.

Costing more this year

Airfare: According to American Express, ticket prices could jump as much as 5 percent, thanks to lower supply and higher demand. Plus, the European green tax to reduce emissions went into effect this week. That means if you’re traveling to Europe, you could pay about $16 more each way.

Shipping: U.S. Postal Service rates will rise an average of 4.6 percent, according to, with FedEx and UPS small-package rates up about 4.9 percent.

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter

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