February may be our shortest month of the year, but it's certainly not lacking when it comes to savings. You might not score as big a discount as you would like on a Valentine's Day gift, but this month you'll find deals on several necessities like winter coats, home goods, and (obviously) big-screen HDTVs. We've rummaged through the dealnews archives of sales, coupons, and daily deals to find out what the best and worst things are to buy in February.
V-Day Deals Won't Shine, But Savings Will Be Sweet
Since many Valentine's Day gift categories are at their most in-demand during the first two weeks of February, the discounts on these items are generally pretty modest. However, that doesn't mean you should give up and pay full-price for things. At the very least, look for coupons at lingerie stores like Victoria's Secret (last year we found a Victoria's Secret coupon code that took $15 off $100 orders) and value-driven jewelry sites like Netaya, ICE.com, Limoges Jewelry, and Ross-Simons. Even department stores are worth sorting through, if you can find a storewide shopping pass that applies to V-Day worthy goods. Expect discounts of 15% to 30% off before Valentine's Day, with sales that take up to 50% off or more after.
And if you don't have a date to shower with gifts, buck up: several restaurants and food chains like Waffle House and Krispy Kreme offered freebies last year to help you forget this fact. (That said, in 2012 Qdoba required that you kiss someone to get a free second entrée, so make sure you're prepared for that possibility this year.)
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, which 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.
Don't Buy the iPad mini Just Yet
Since the iPad mini supposedly won't receive an upgrade until July, some Apple fans may be considering buying the diminutive tablet now, if they don't already have one. However, if you can wait until at least late April or early May, then you can likely score a high-quality refurbished model at the Apple Store, which will carry a 1-year warranty, the same as new units. We predict that the 16GB WiFi model will drop to $289 or $299 at this time, and if you wait until the iPad mini 2 debuts in July, then refurbs could fall even lower to $249.
Tax Software Deals Have Been Coming in Hot
We mentioned in the January buying guide that tax software deals will pop up throughout the weeks leading up to April 15, and we noted that Editors' Choice sales specifically picked up steam in February last year. So far in 2013 though, the deals have offered stronger discounts than they comparatively did in 2012. In fact, we've already posted markdowns of up to 58% off programs from H&R Block and Turbotax. Thus, it's reasonable to expect that these deeper, early cuts could translate into even better sales in February and March. As a point of reference, look for 2013 software titles to drop to $20 or less.
Wait At Least Another Month to Buy a Phone
There weren't many groundbreaking phone announcements at CES this year, so most industry experts predict a greater number of debuts at Mobile World Congress in Spain later this month. Once the latest fleet of mobile models are released, we'll see even greater deals on all previous generations. Admittedly, we're already seeing some noteworthy deals, but they should get even better post-MWC. Look for a greater number of free or for-profit phone deals on hot Android and Windows Phone models with a greater variety of carrier options.
It's the Perfect Time to Get a High-End Coat
Brands that specialize in cold weather gear like Columbia Sportswear have reportedly experienced weak sales due to the relatively mild winter, and much like last year, we're predicting steep discounts on outerwear as a result. In fact, we've seen double the number of deals on items from The North Face, a brand that typically is excluded from sales. This is an especially good time then to invest in a high-end fabrication, like a long, down-filled jacket. Since some coats will be marked up to 85% off, you can save hundreds of dollars on a quality style that will keep you warm for years to come.
Expect Electronics Clearance Sales
Last month we noted that as new electronics from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) begin to hit shelves, retailers will make room for them by offering discounts on old stock. This effort continues in February, and includes markdowns on a variety of electronics, including small gadgets and audio equipment. To take advantage of these deals, keep a look out for specifically 2012 models in the category of your choice.
An Abundance of Deals on Big-Screen HDTVs
While November is traditionally the best time to buy a new HDTV, this year January and February are proving to be the best months for purchasing a big-screen HDTV. Prices on 55" and 60" 1080p LCD HDTVs are currently among the lowest we've seen in the past twelve months. Just last month we saw a Westinghouse 60" 1080p set for $700 shipped. (The second-lowest price we've ever seen for any 60" 1080p LCD set). Likewise, 55" 3D HDTVs are currently enjoying all-time low prices with name-brand sets fallng to as low as $800.
So if you've had your eye on an upgrade, now is an excellent time to buy. For name-brand 60" sets, look for prices at or below $900. For third-tier sets, look for deals below $750. And name-brand 55" 3D deals will be priced at $800 or below — that's the all-time low for these TVs.
Ivy Bridge Laptops Remain Under $400, But Choose Core i3 Over i5
As we predicted last month, deals on 16" Ivy Bridge laptops have remained at all-time low prices. In fact, the past three months have yielded the lowest three prices we've seen on these laptops.
For Ivy Bridge Core i3-based laptops, look at deals at or below $380. ($350 is the all-time low price we saw in December.) Core i5-based systems on the other hand jumped from an all-time low of $398 in December to a high of $500 in January. So for the time being, the savings are mainly found on the Core i3 systems.