Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, it’s still possible to get great deals if you just let the calendar be your guide. Retailers typically do 40 percent or more off all their annual sales during the Christmas shopping season.
But the deals they offer are concentrated heavily at two times — early in the season and then much later on. So don’t fall for the ploy where you see stores promoting sales that are actually non-sales. In general, the deals won’t pick back up again until now (mid-December). Clothing typically goes on sale now.
Monday is a key date, particularly for seasonal goods. That includes women’s robes, men’s belts, wallets — basically anything you buy when you’re clueless about what to buy for that person on your list. With electronics, the great deals are pretty much already in the bag, though you may see additional steals with a big push around this time.
These late-breaking offers will typically come with free shipping in time for Christmas delivery.
And then what about the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day? It used to be a deal, but now it’s frightfully expensive because of a couple of factors. People want to do their gift returns and spend their gift cards while they’re out shopping that week. Plus, you have people off from school and work who are hitting the stores. The retailers know they’ll have the customer volume, so they don’t necessarily do any discounting just yet.
But when the calendar flips, it becomes a whole different story. You have another opportunity for real markdown bargains beginning Jan. 7. Anything left at that point will be deeply discounted until they can clear it off the shelf.
Remember, the calendar is your friend for deals.
Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website.
And get more savings tips from Clark’s previous blog posts.
– Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog