The short month of February is here, but don't worry: 2012 is a leap year, which means savvy consumers will have one extra day to cram in more deal-shopping! Check out our list of the best and worst things to buy in February, which we've compiled after analyzing the extensive dealnews archives full of sales, coupons, and individual products from years past. If you're curious about Presidents' Day sales, gifts for Valentine's Day, or prices on electronics, outerwear, and more, then read on.
Valentine's Day Deals Are Predictably Not Great
Since this is the time of year in which jewelry, flowers, and perfume are in their highest in demand, it's not surprising that shoppers probably won't get the best price possible on these items; perfumes, for example, generally see better discounts in late February after Valentine's Day and March. That's because there's less incentive for retailers to offer truly great deals on these items when they're selling so well due to circumstance. Try buying your sweetheart a less routine Valentine's Day gift in a category that's more likely to see a fair discount.
Prepare for Presidents' Day Sales
The best part about a holiday weekend isn't necessarily the day off, but rather the inevitable sales. You can expect quite a few Presidents' Day sales during the 3-day weekend that will take as much as 80% off on a plethora of apparel, as well as tools, bedding, and furniture. Some retailers tend to offer deeper discounts on existing sales, while others will lean towards modest coupons (likely an extra 20% to 30% off) that are applicable sitewide. Look to clothing and department stores for a big Presidents' Day sale push.
Rumors continue to swirl about the release date of the iPad 3, and many folks believe that it will be announced at the end of February. If that is indeed the case, then we'll likely see immediate markdowns on refurbished iPad 2 units sold by Apple, as well as substantial cuts on new devices from resellers.
Expect Electronics Clearance Sales
We mentioned in our January guide that, as new electronics unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) begin to hit shelves, retailers make room for them by offering discounts on old stock. This effort continues in February, and includes markdowns on electronics like GPS units and audio equipment — the latter of which we've already started to see excellent deals on.
Wait on Digital Cameras
Common logic dictates that we'd similarly see the best deals of the year on digital cameras during the month of February, as retailers clear camera inventory post-CES. However, our deal archives paint a different picture. Although we've seen some excellent bargains during the month of February, these discounts and promotions have paled in comparison to November and December in terms of Editors' Choice-caliber offers. In the past two years, both of these later months have each seen roughly four times as many top deals than February.
An Excellent Time for Outerwear
We mentioned in our January buying guide that winter apparel was beginning to see its greatest discounts of the season, and these sales will continue through February, though typically the selection is less robust. But that might not be the case if you're looking specifically for a winter coat, as the mild season has reportedly left retailers with massive amounts of unsold inventory, therefore making this perhaps one of the best years to get a deal on a late-in-the-season coat. If you've been putting off replacing your tried-and-true wool or down coat, February and March will be excellent months to snag a deal.
An Increase in the Number of Ski Resort Deals
Since snow has been hard to come by this winter, the number of travelers booking trips to ski resort towns has been unusually low. Although numerous locations recently received a fresh dusting of powder, the ski season has been damaged due to mild weather. We've already seen an influx of special skiing discounts on vacations and hotels in ski towns like Keystone, CO, Salt Lake City and Park City, UT, and more, as they try to salvage a weak tourist season.
Wait Until March to Catch Up on Movies
Throughout the year we tend to see daily deal sites discount bulk movie tickets, and cinema chains often offer promotions for ticket sales as well. But strangely enough, these types of movie deals have largely been a miss in February for the past two years; in February 2011, we didn't see a single deal for discounted movie vouchers, and in 2010, we only saw an offer from AMC to watch a marathon of the Oscar-nominated Best Picture nominees. The scarcity in February is maybe a fluke (for two years in a row?), or perhaps theaters actually believe the upcoming Academy Awards is enough of an impetus for consumers to get into their seats. Either way, there's a chance that avid movie goers may have to pay full-price this month.
Go Big on HDTVs
Unfortunately, the head-turning deals we saw on 42" LCD HDTVs in November and December came to a quicker-than-expected end in January as prices on name-brand and third-tier 42" sets jumped back to their pre-September averages. Likewise, 55" 3D LCDs slowly made the transition from $999 back to $1,337. But that doesn't mean TVs should be off your radar just yet.
Big-screen TVs — those in the 55" and 60" category — are still coming in at aggressive price points. Deals on 55" name-brand LCDs, for instance, hit $800 in December and $700 in January (the lowest price we've seen for a 55" name-brand LCD TV since this summer, when we saw a Toshiba drop to an astonishing $559 for less than an hour). That means we could see better or equal deals on these sets trickle into February, especially as new CES models begin to enter the market. Name-brand 60" sets hit an all-time low of $800 in November, and while we haven't seen that price point since, we have seen LED-backlit sets (also name-brand) in recent weeks that hover around the all-time low price of $970, giving us hope of seeing similar deals in February.
Fully-equipped desktop replacements (those with 17" screens, Core i7 CPUs, and 8GB of RAM) are still enjoying all-time lows. During the past three months, we've seen deals on these 17" premium systems hit $800 — a price we've never seen before. Dual-core 15" laptops, however, have gone up in price, slowly reaching their pre-holiday average of roughly $330.
Shoppers should also keep an eye on ultrabooks, one of the hottest trends at CES this year. As these super-thin laptops begin to hit the market in greater numbers, they could potentially lower the price on other 12" and 13" laptops.
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