What to Buy in January

Why January Is the Best Time to Buy Winter Clothes, Linens, and More

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What to Buy in January

Buy This, Not That, to Start the Year

Have you overspent on Christmas presents? Are holiday gift cards burning a hole in your pocket? Either way, you can kick off the new year with frugal finesse by knowing which deals are ripe for the picking and which may need a little more time to ripen. Here are the products likely to be at their bargain best in January.

Related: 30 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2020

Buy: Holiday Decor

Buy: Holiday Decor

Prices on holiday-themed goods take a dive immediately after Christmas and continue to fall throughout January. Early on, prices should be at least half off, and discounts may hit 75% or more not long after New Year's — but keep in mind that selection will dwindle the longer you wait.

Deals on Decor

Deals on Holiday Decor

Mass retailers are always a good bet for holiday clearance. Look to Walmart and Target for blanket discounts on the basics, including shatterproof ornaments and lights. If the shelves are already bare at the big-box stores, don't forget department stores such as Macy's, which slash prices on holiday dinnerware and more upscale ornaments and collectibles. Also worth a look are home improvement retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe's for discounts on big-ticket items including artificial trees and inflatables.

Gift Sets

Buy: Gift Sets

In your rush to stock up on ornaments, wreaths, and other more obvious holiday items, don't forget about gift sets. Once January rolls around, retailers will be desperate to get rid of anything in giftable holiday packaging, from makeup and other beauty items to shelf-stable food.

Gift Basket
Harry & David

Deals on Gift Sets

For sweet deals on sets of lip gloss, eyeshadow, and other cosmetics, Ulta should be a particularly good bet, with some prices slashed to half off immediately after Christmas. For lotions, candles, and other sweet-smelling products, look for holdovers from the Bath & Body Works Semi-Annual Sale, a post-holiday staple. And don't forget gift baskets filled with treats that taste good year-round, whether you find them still on the shelves at your local grocery or at a nice discount from specialty retailers such as Harry & David.

Winter Apparel

Buy: Winter Apparel

Winter clothing is an even better bet in January than Christmas clearance items. Retailers know spring is right around the corner, and shelf space is in short supply. January is a good month to find a broad selection, good sales, and stackable coupons. February and March may see even better deals, but choices will be limited, so this is the time to grab your size at a nice price.

Deals on Winter Apparel
Eddie Bauer

Deals on Winter Apparel

The best discounts come courtesy of apparel-only retailers, many of which give shoppers a blanket discount on items that are already on sale or clearance. As the month goes on, look for prices to drop sharply on hats, coats, boots, and sweaters at retailers including Gap, Lands' End, and Eddie Bauer. Don't forget about sporting goods retailers such as Dick's and outfitters such as REI — they'll also have plenty of winter clothing to clear.

Winter Sports Gear

Skip: Winter Sports Gear

While outfitters should offer some nice discounts on regular winter apparel, don't bother looking for bargain-basement deals on anything more technical. January is still peak season for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing, so there's no incentive for retailers to really slash prices on winter sports gear until the season ends. Look for attractive deals starting in March or April.

Small Electronics

Buy: Small Electronics

Prices on electronics began a downward spiral on Black Friday — that's when TVs typically see the biggest discounts. After huge markdowns in November and December, January brings good deals on smaller electronics including tablets, cameras, and other gizmos. The Consumer Electronics Show takes place early in January, which means last year's models often hit clearance prices in the latter half of the month. A big exception is laptops, which typically see the best discounts around back-to-school time and during the holidays.

Apple iPad
Best Buy

Deals on Small Electronics

Always look for the most competitive electronics prices at mass retailers, including Walmart, Amazon, and Target — the first two are especially likely to match each other's discounts on popular buys. Best Buy is also worth a look, especially for more specialized items. Don't forget that specialty retailers such as Dell and Newegg sell more than computers, too.


Buy: Linens

January's "white sales" — so named because linens used to come only in white — are historically the best opportunity to stock up on sheets, comforter sets, throws, towels, and similar items, especially if you don't want to wait until significant discounts roll around again over the summer.

Macy's Linens

Deals on Linens

Look for deals at any store that sells sheets, but the best selection (and typically the best discounts) is likely to come from cash-strapped department stores including Macy's and JCPenney. You'll also find good deals from online discounters including Overstock, Wayfair, and specialty stores including Pottery Barn and West Elm.


Buy: Furniture

January is one of the best times of year to buy furniture. That's because new models are released in February, which motivates retailers to start discounting old inventory the month before. Shoppers in need of a new sofa or dining set should plan to buy one in January or February as sales linger through Presidents' Day. (Of course, this is not the time to shop for outdoor furniture — that goes on clearance at the end of the summer.)


Deals on Furniture

For our money, the best place to look for deals is local furniture stores. Competition is always stiff and you can be reasonably assured your items will make it to you in one piece with local delivery. If you're willing to chance online shopping, check sites including Overstock and Wayfair. And don't forget Amazon, which now has its own furniture lines, such as Rivet and Stone & Beam, and boasts a famously streamlined return process, even for larger items.

Find the Right Mattress.jpg

Skip: Mattresses and Small Appliances

Mattresses are rarely good deals in January. Save by waiting until Presidents' Day in February, when mattress sales pop up everywhere for buyers who have more time to shop around and test new beds. Presidents' Day is also a better time to buy small appliances, so put off buying a new coffee maker, microwave, or Instant Pot if you didn't pick one up at a holiday discount.

Home Gym Equipment

Buy: Home Fitness Gear

For deal hunters looking to make good on some resolutions and kick their fitness levels up a notch, home workout gear is a good buy in January. If you're outfitting a home gym, bargain prices on exercise equipment abound. If you'd rather follow along with a fitness video, DVDs and online exercise programs also will be on sale to start the year.


Deals on Home Fitness Gear

No, you're unlikely to find a bargain-basement Peloton bike, but prominent stores such as Walmart and Sears usually offer sweet deals on treadmills or ellipticals. Dick's Sporting Goods and specialty home fitness retailers typically have a wider selection, if not the absolute lowest price on a particular model. And don't forget warehouse clubs such as Costco, which boasts competitive prices on exercise equipment throughout the year. (The best deals are usually reserved for members — join here.)

Gym Membership
Serghei Starus/shutterstock

Maybe: Gym Membership

The local gym won't lack new members in January. Some may offer promotions such as waived enrollment fees to kick off the new year, especially in places where competition is stiff, but you're more likely to find the best deals when warmer weather entices people to take their workouts outside. Summer is when gym proprietors will be most eager to see your face.

Seasonal Produce

Buy: Seasonal Produce

Stick to a resolution to eat better this year with fresh and cheap in-season vegetables, including beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, kale, leeks, onions, and parsnips. Add some sweetness with healthy and readily available fruits, such as clementines, cranberries, grapefruit, pears, pineapples, and pomegranates.

Toy Store

Maybe: Toys

While the most popular toys are not deeply discounted in January, others are, particularly those based on new movies. For example, Star Wars toys have crowded shelves during the past several holiday seasons as new films have come out, then gone on sale in January as retailers rushed to clear out merchandise before the movies' popularity waned. Of course, retailers are also looking to clear out excess stock from the holidays before new toys surface in the spring.


Deals on Toys

Look in particular for Target to discount a wide variety of toys up to 70% off by the middle of the month. Walmart and Amazon, the other remaining major toy retailers after the demise of Toys R Us, are also worth a look.