TVs are always on sale — which is sort of like saying they're never really on sale. How do you find great TV deals, especially if you can't wait for the one big sale week of the year? How do you know you're getting a good price if you know there'll always be a cheaper set in a few months? We crunched the numbers to find the answers. Read on for more.
It's Black Friday
When is the best time to buy a TV? The short answer to that question is fairly obvious: Black Friday! In 2016, during the last two weeks of November, TV deals rained from the sky. We saw 139 Editors' Choice TV deals during that time period, which is more than what we saw in September, October, and the rest of November combined.
But what if, like our User Experience guru Jeff Somogyi, your TV breaks down in March? Are you going to wait until November to buy a new TV? Of course not, so it's worth noting other times when you can find a good deal. (Another short answer: every week in our TV deal roundup.)
It's Always and Never a Good Time to Buy a TV
While we never see the same level of Editors' Choice deals that we see following Thanksgiving, there are spikes during other months of the year. This past July was the only other month in 2016 where we saw anything close. We also saw a slight bump above the average in March, so right now probably wouldn't be a bad time to get a new set.
However, the truth is that TV prices are in a near constant state of decreasing, and unless you do get a great Black Friday deal, you are very likely to see a lower price just a few months later. For example, in February 2016, the best price for a brand name 55" 4K TV ($515) was already less than what we saw on Black Friday three months earlier, but by September, we saw lows $135 less than that.
Conversely, TV prices are always dropping. What that means is that there is almost never a bad time to buy a TV. Although prices will most likely drop after you make your purchase, with a little research, you can probably find a set at a good price that's better than the month before.
Buy at the Right Time of Year
The reason TV prices are in a constant state of flux is that new advances in technology are always being introduced to improve the viewing experience. As such, there's a neverending cycle of out with the old and in with the new, so if you don't mind foregoing some of the latest bells and whistles, you'll be able to save the most cash.
The reason we see bumps in Editors' Choice deals in March and July is a result of this cycle. Television manufacturers typically introduce new models during the first quarter of the year, so that spike in March represents the first wave of sales on the previous year's models. By July, retailers are desperate to get the old sets off the shelves and so we see another spike in sales.
Avoid Unnecessary Features
But even if you aren't shopping in March or July, you will typically find the best deals to be on the previous year's models. Also, if you can do without features like a curved screen, HDR, or Smart TV capabilities, you will be able to find a lower price. It's also worth doing a side-by-side comparison between a 1080p and a 4K set to see if you can really notice the difference. If 4K doesn't knock your socks off, you'll be able to score a 1080p for dramatically less money.
Your best bet is to decide what size TV you want and make a list of must-have features. Then track the prices of a few sets for a week or two before making a purchase. (DealNews makes this part easy.) Some stores offer price guarantees. For example, Best Buy will refund you the difference if the price drops during the return/exchange period.
Once you pull the trigger, enjoy your new TV and try not to worry about the fact that in a few months it will cost less.
When have you found good TV deals? Let us know in the comments.