April is here, and if you're stuck indoors waiting out the seasonal showers, you'll have an excuse to spend more time shopping for the best deals online. To help guide you towards 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 purchasing. From early spring apparel sales to Tax Day freebies, here is what's in store this month for the smart shopper.
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Mid-Season Clothing Sales Coming to a Retailer Near You
The general rule for dressing yourself in deals is to wait about two months after a new season of apparel hits stores, before cashing in on sizable discounts. Many retailers began debuting their spring merchandise in February, which means April is the two-month mark. Expect moderate discounts that take 15% to 30% off; any spring clothing sale that slashes 40% to 50% off current season items will be exceptional, because otherwise, 50% off discounts won't materialize until May or later.
And speaking of clothing, you're running out of time to shop for clearance-level discounts on winter items. The winter season was long and brutal again this year, which means coats and warm apparel and accessories were likely still in demand deep into the season. Now that spring is definitely around the corner, there's no reason to hold onto any remaining stock. Shoppers should look for discounts of up to 80% off.
Get Your Fill of Tax Day Freebies
There are few people in this world who don't appreciate getting something for free, and one of the most popular days for restaurants to offer something gratis takes place in April: Tax Day. Fast food and nationwide chains in particular offer free food on April 15. If the tax day freebies are anything like last year, then you should be on the lookout for opportunities to get a free cup of coffee, free breakfast foods, or free side orders or desserts with the purchase of an entrée. Note that sit down restaurants are likely to require a purchase, whereas fast food locations might not require a purchase.
And if you like free stuff (and who doesn't?), be sure to check out our latest freebie deals and our complete list of resources for getting freebies year round.
Don't Expect Deals on the Apple Watch
Apple finally released details on its smartwatch, and it'll soon be sold at various stores nationwide. But despite the recent trend for Apple products to go on sale shortly after release, we don't expect to see any deals on the watch for several months since it's a brand new product category. According to deal data for the original iPad, the earliest we might see earnest discounts will be November, if not later. For more information on Apple Watch deals, check out our complete price guide.
Android Smartphones Continue to Shine
Several flagship Android phones were announced last month, and as they start to make it to the market, previous generation models will see clearance pricing. The Samsung Galaxy S5, for example, has dropped to just $1 with a 2-year contract, since the S6 is due for release soon. Look for other notable Android and Windows phones to drop significantly in price, or to even be free with a contract renewal. These deals can pop up any time from a variety of sellers, so keep an eye on our weekly roundup of the best phone deals to find the model of your dreams.
The Google Effect Won't Change Your Phone Bills... Yet
Google announced last month that it will offer wireless cell phone service by the end of 2015, by piggybacking off the network of some bigger providers. While Google claims it merely wants to demonstrate technical innovations that existing carriers should adopt, it's likely that the company's very presence in the industry will shake things up. When Google offered cheap internet service in select cities a few years ago, it forced competing ISPs to offer deals so that customers didn't switch their service. We expect to see more competitive offers from Verizon, AT&T, and others once Google starts rolling out its service.
Now is the Time for a European Vacation
The US dollar has been growing stronger recently, which means that it's getting closer to a 1:1 conversion rate with the Euro. As a result, Travelzoo reports that hotel stays in several European countries are effectively up to 45% cheaper now. The steepest discounts are found in Russia and Ukraine, but more tranquil options like Sweden and Norway are up to 19% cheaper. Click here for the full list of the top 10 countries for the cheapest hotel stays.
Wait Until Memorial Day for Mattresses, Tools, and Appliances
Departments stores almost always roll out special sales for holiday weekends, and Memorial Day usually provides excellent discounts on select home items. If you wait until next month, you'll find tools that are up to 50% off, large appliances for about 30% off, and mattresses that get an extra discount of 10% to 40% off. In fact, for the past few years, we've seen much deeper discounts on mattresses in May than in April. Therefore, any discounts you see this month will very likely get even steeper if you wait.
Free Shipping Now Comes Cheaper
Target recently lowered its order minimum to $25 to receive free shipping, which is cheaper than Amazon's $35 threshold. That means you won't have to spend as much to get things shipped free, making Target a potentially better option for smaller online orders. (Of course, always compare prices before deciding on the vendor.)
Select Produce Will Increase in Price This Spring
Your goals to eat fresher foods this year might be temporarily derailed as prices are on the rise for select items. According to the USDA, fresh vegetables will increase in price by 2% to 3%, while grapefruit is already up 14% from 2014. Meanwhile, avocados are predicted to increase by an astounding 30% because of California droughts. (The state produces 95% of the nation's crop, so there's little way around this one.) Click here for more foods that might be more expensive this spring, and for suggested alternatives that can save your grocery budget.
You're Going to Pay More for Fine Wines
It's understandable if you didn't personally feel upset about price increases on vegetables (another way to justify frequent pizza dinners!), but this one may hurt the winos: Fine wines are unfortunately going up in price. This applies to any bottle in the $20+ price range, but the North Bay Business Journal notes that Napa Valley reserve cabernet sauvignons that would normally sell for about $100, for example, have recently increased in price by $15 to $20. Make sure to spend more time looking for budget bottles that provide big value.
Soon You'll Be Able to Buy a MacBook Charger for Less
The latest MacBook features a new USB-C port that requires a different kind of charger, and Apple reportedly won't stand in the way of third party devices for the port. This means that a host of manufacturers are now allowed to legally produce chargers for the laptop, whereas in the past a user could only fork up $79 for the MagSafe, Apple-branded chargers. Already, Belkin is working on an adapter that would make its chargers compatible with the MacBook, saving the user at least $29 overall.
Go Big and Opt for 2014 Models for the Best Deals on a TV
If you're buying a new TV this month, we recommend you go big to get the best value. The best deals on name-brand 55" HDTVs have averaged $500 since the start of the year, which is just $20 shy of their all-time Black Friday low. Off-brand models, unfortunately, continue to fluctuate in price with deals raging from $250 (an absolute steal) to $443 (an overly-high price for this type of TV).
If you're looking for a smaller set, name-brand 42" TVs have plateaued at $300 since October of 2014. While these TVs tend to drop to $199 during Black Friday, $300 has been the price to beat. Alternatively, opting for an off-brand model could save you an additional $50. Deals on 1080p 32" and 46" to 47" LCD TVs have otherwise been quiet with prices that are currently higher than usual.
However, as new 2015 TVs begin to enter the market, prices on 2014 models could fall slightly. Our recommendation is to opt for TVs from 2014, rather than pay more for a newer 2015 model that won't offer much in terms of performance upgrades. (Unless you're buying a 4K HDTV, in which you might want the improved technology.)
New Laptops Push Previous-Gen Notebooks Into the Bargain Bin
Intel's 5th-generation processor (aka, Broadwell) is having a positive effect on laptops using the older 4th-generation CPU (aka, Haswell). Retailers are trying to clear inventory of laptops using the previous-generation CPU, which has resulted in a 7% drop in price for barebones Core i3 systems. Look for prices around $260.
Meanwhile, high-end Haswell systems, which utilize the Core i7 processor, have dropped 10% in price versus their best price in 2014, putting deals in the $450 range. That's an incredible value considering these systems traditionally offer better-than-average specs and hardware.
There's also good news for technofiles eager to upgrade to a new Broadwell-based laptop. In the past two months, the best deals on these laptops have dropped 14% to their current low of $500. Although that's almost double the price of a similarly-configured older Haswell laptop, it's still an impressive drop for such a short time frame. However, keep in mind most retailers will charge $550 or more, so you'll have to be diligent in your search for that rare $500 deal.