By all accounts, people shopped like crazy during this past holiday season. Consumers spent 5.5 percent more this season than last. Online sales did even better, up more than 13 percent to a record $31 billion from November through December.
Well, now the tree is taken down, the wrapping paper discarded,and another holiday season is over. Are you tapped out after all that spending?
Many kinds of items are on sale or clearance, so if you have a few bucks left, now is an ideal time to shop. January is a time when retailers clear out holiday and winter merchandise.
At the same time, they're desperate to drum up some post-holiday traffic. Then there are the items that traditionally sell slowest in winter (at least in the colder climates) so you can find excellent promotional deals on things like air conditioners.
Here's a roundup of the top eleven bargains for January 2011:
1. Holiday merchandise. Okay, this one is obvious; all the stores clear out their lights, trees, ornaments, candles, cards and wrapping paper, so stock up for next year. I pack away holiday stuff in a big storage bin so it's neatly contained in my closet until the next holiday season.
2. Cold weather and holiday clothing. This is the time to stock up on sweaters, scarves, gloves, boots, coats and hats. Or buy some and put away to use as gifts for the next holiday season.
By February, most retailers are clearing out the warm clothes to make way for spring fashions. Additionally, now is the perfect time to buy party wear. Get sharp suits and cool cocktail dresses, sparkly jewelry and sequined purses that are good for parties and special occasions all year round.
3. Robes, slippers, and pajamas are popular holiday gift items, so they're usually marked down once Christmas is past. These also make good gifts to save for next time.
4. Winter equipment. This could range from shovels and snow blowers to cold-weather sporting goods such as skis and skates.
5. Summer equipment. Conversely, you also could find great deals on summer equipment, if it's in stock. Find low prices on camping gear, tents, backpacks, kayaks, fishing gear and grills.
6. Boats. If you're in a colder climate, your local boat dealer will likely be grateful to see you. Try visiting the showroom on a snowy afternoon to score a good price, then you'll be ready to head out on the water when spring comes. Don't wait until those fancy boat shows, prices will be jacked up then.
7. Motorcycles. Just like boats, they don't sell much during the winter in northern climates. For the best price on a new motorcycle, buy one that is left over from the previous model year.
8. Carpet and flooring. Most folks, if they buy this over the winter, do so before the holidays so their house has a nice new look for holiday entertaining. Come January, dealers are wishing for more business, so you'll find some great prices.
9. Bicycles. Visit your local bicycle shop in January to find the bike that Santa forgot. It's also a good time to bring your bicycle in for any repairs you may need. Traffic, and prices, go up in bicycle shops when the spring comes.
10. Air conditioners. An obvious January bargain in colder climates (or online) – now is the time to shop around and find the best prices on wall units or whole-house systems. Plus, the installers probably won't be booked up, the way they are in summer.
11. White sales. Finally, the old-school classic January savings opportunity – white sales. This tradition was started by the now-defunct John Wanamaker department store in 1878, and it's still going strong. Get the year's best prices on sheets, towels and pillows.
Photo credit via Flickr1, Flickr2