April is here, and if you're stuck indoors waiting out showers that will bring May flowers, consider it a blessing: You'll have an excuse to devote more time to shopping around for deals! In an effort to guide you toward savvy purchases, we dug through the dealnews archives from years past to see what goods are, well, good to buy in April, and what you should hold off on. From early home improvement sales to aggressive tablet prices, here's what's in store this month for the smart shopper.
Sail the Seas with Excellent Cruise DealsTypically, April is a good month to book cruises. But we discovered last month that cruise prices in general have been dropping when compared to last year, likely due to the industry's tumultuous string of recent public disasters. In fact, when compared to similar cruise deals from this time last year, 2012's offers are as much as 11% less. And we have continued to see an increase in the sheer number of cruise deals as well, making it a good time (price-wise) to look into a vacation on the seas.
Keep an Eye on Spring Clothing SalesThe general rule of thumb is to wait about two months after a new line of apparel hits stores before you can cash in on sizable discounts. Many retailers began debuting their spring merchandise in late January and February, so that places April at about the two month mark for some. Look closely at the discounts though: a spring clothing sale that takes 30% to 40% off is still a mid-season promotion; you'll want a sale that takes at least 50% off or more, and if you can hold steady for a stacking coupon code, all the better. If you truly want the lowest prices — which of course comes with reduced selection — you'll likely want to wait until May.
Look to Non-Apple Tablets for Aggressive DealsAs most of the world expected, Apple announced its new iPad last month. What many didn't expect, however, was for Apple to then continue to manufacture and sell the iPad 2 at a lower price. This new price point from Apple — although just $100 lower — puts pressure on Apple competitors, especially since we've already seen deals that discount it to as low as $349. As we predicted, non-Apple slate manufacturers will feel compelled to respond aggressively, and as such we've already seen a new all-time low on the Amazon Kindle Fire. Could this be a sign of things to come from other tablets as well?
Get a Jump on Jewelry Deals for Mother's DayIf you're thinking about buying some baubles for Mother's Day, then start looking now. We still find and list deals, coupons, and sales for jewelry in May, but often times we see slightly higher final prices on styles right before the holiday. This is especially true of online jewelry retailers.
Spring Home Improvement Sales Go NationalFor the past three years, Home Depot has offered its "Black Friday is Back" spring sale, but this year, because of the mild winter weather, the store has not only started it early but — according to CNBC — the promotion has been rolled out nationwide, instead of as a staggered region-by-region schedule. Their spring sale began on March 29, whereas last year we listed it almost a week and a half later. While we wouldn't go so far as to say that the promotion is on par with the shopping holiday that shares its name, the Black Friday sale is a good opportunity to stock up on home improvement items you'll inevitably need. And for once, the sales are available to everyone at the same time, ahead of schedule.
Hold Off on Office FurnitureSome sources praise April as the best month for top office furniture deals, but according to our archives, we've consistently seen either more or better-quality deals in both May and June. The latter, in particular, racks up more Editors' Choice caliber offers, meaning that the styles are at the lowest price point we've seen. Look to OfficeMax, Office Depot, Staples, and Walmart for these offers down the line.
Wait for it to Really Heat Up Before Buying a GrillIt's easy to start dreaming about backyard barbecues once the weather gets warmer, and although the promise of an upcoming season of grilling is enticing, don't jump the gun by purchasing a new grill just yet. Our deal archives suggest that June will see better-quality deals, while other sources promote post-Independence day sales as an excellent opportunity to get discounts on grills and the like.
Big Screen HDTVs Hold Steady, While 3D Trends CheaperAlthough April isn't a big month for TV deals, we don't expect it to be a bad month either. Deals on brand-name 55" TVs haven't changed since the holidays, coming in at exactly $800. Off-brand models on the other hand have actually dropped in price since December, and so far this year they're averaging $590 (which is 14% lower than the best price we saw in 2011). We expect this trend to continue in April, so if you're shopping for a 55" TV, look for deals under $590 (for off-brand sets) and under $800 (for brand-name models). Likewise, name-brand 46" LCD HDTVs were cheaper in February and March of 2012 than they were on Black Friday, with prices averaging $550. (The best deal in November was $598.)
As far as 3D TVs are concerned, February's all-time low of $699 didn't repeat itself in March. But we do expect it to make a return before the summer, so keep a look out for deals on off-brand 55" 3D TVs.
With Laptop Deals, Aim for Big Systems and Skinny Form FactorsAlthough February's stellar deal on a fully-equipped desktop replacement didn't make a re-appearance in March, average prices in 2012 are still at Black Friday levels. So if you're in need of a laptop, look for deals on fully-loaded desktop replacements (17" or larger, with a minimum of 8GB RAM, a Core i7 CPU, and a 500GB hard drive) at or below $800.
Last month we noticed an influx of deals on ultrabooks and we expect the same for April. In particular, look for deals on the ASUS Zenbook or the Acer Aspire S3 as those are the most discounted ultrabooks we've seen. Price-wise, the former has hit an all-time low of $849 whereas the S3 has reached a low of $749.
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