It's the new year, and you might be suffering from a post-holiday spending hangover. While it's a great time to make sensible financial New Year's resolutions, you still need to buy all of life's essentials. Maybe you even held off on major purchases until the after-Christmas sales kicked in. Fortunately, you can shop in January and still start 2017 with a flush wallet.
Check out our list of the best and worst things to buy in January, which we compiled from our extensive archives. (You can also make your life in 2017 a little easier by signing up for the DealNews Select Newsletter, and having the best deals of the day delivered to your inbox.)
7 Good Buys This Month
Looking to start the New Year with a new physique? Retailers are there for you, offering deals on sports and fitness equipment. NordicTrack offered one of the best sitewide sales we'd seen, at up to 50% off. Many other retailers, such as Running Warehouse and Cabela's, offered deals comparable to the ones we saw from them during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Sales included everything from bats and balls to free weights. Fitness trackers are still a popular item, though less so as smartwatches have become more widespread.
This is also traditionally a good time to get deals on gym memberships. Look for gyms to lower or completely waive sign-up fees; if they don't outright offer it, ask for it. The best deals will also give you a month or even two months for free. If you're willing to pay for a full year upfront, the gym is more likely to be receptive to your requests for discounts.
Apparel deals notably dominate after-Christmas sales. Last year we saw sales that were either the best or tied for it from Nike, Gap Factory, Brooks Brothers, Tory Burch, Nautica, and many more. Winter coats, sweaters, hats, and gloves will see even deeper discounts now than they did during Black Friday. In 2016, sales went as high as 70% off select items with most discounts around 40% or 50%, plus additional discounts on clearance items.
National Park Visits
January 16 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and in celebration, all 409 national parks will feature free admission. While a large number of our parks are already free of charge, notable parks waiving their fees include several of the most-visited in the country, such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Olympic National Park. You'll save roughly $12 per person if you're arriving by foot or bike, or about $20 to $25 per vehicle.
Early Valentine's Day Gifts
Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Fortunately, January sees numerous discounts on diamonds and pearls from retailers like Szul and WinPearl. And lots of those department store end-of-year sales will include jewelry and accessories.
Also, keep an eye out for Valentine's Day flower sales from 1-800-Flowers and Teleflora to start just before the end of the month, as well as chocolate sales from Harry & David and Godiva. These sales will cut 20% to 25% sitewide, or will offer free shipping (or both).
We know the timing is far from ideal, but January is a great month to buy Christmas decorations. Try to think ahead and stock up for next year! Last year, we saw tons of post-Christmas decor clearances from Lowe's, Home Depot, Target, and Pottery Barn. Most cut up to 70% off the seasonal inventory, with some going as high as 89%. Look for discounted trees, lights, ornaments, inflatable lawn figures, stockings, model villages, and more.
January is a better than usual time to buy watches, with twice the number of Editors' Choice deals than average. This is largely due to a ton of deals from Ashford (see below), but we also saw stellar offerings last year from JomaShop, Rue La La, Amazon, The Watchery, and various eBay sellers. These included discounts on everything from affordable Casio and Timex pieces, to mid-range Hamilton, Raymond Weil, and Movado items, and even a few deals on Rolex and TAG Heuer.
Linens, Bedding, and Towels
January is traditionally the time for "White sales" from department stores on bed linens. At least one historian says the practice began in 1878 with John Wanamaker, an innovative merchant and marketer; he wanted to spur business during the slow winter months (apparently that post-holiday slump has been around for a while), so he discounted bed linens, which at the time were only available in white.
Look to Wayfair, JCPenney, L.L.Bean, and Target for around 50% off all your bedding needs. The practice has expanded to usually include towels, and sometimes even other bathroom and kitchen necessities.
3 Things to Wait On
Electronics and Computers
Though the Consumer Electronics Show in January usually leads to discounts on Android phones and high-end TVs, our data shows that electronics as a whole are better in February. This is likely due to the fact that stores are trying to bring shoppers back with President's Day sales, and all those 2016 tech models are about to be replaced on the shelves. Look for discounts on everything from USB storage drives to Apple Watches then.
As with any seasonal item, you'll be able to pick up inauguration merchandise for a song after the event itself. So just like it pays to wait until a sport's season is over to buy gear, wait until January 21 or later for commemorative souvenirs and apparel.
The Amazon Echo and Echo Dot speakers/personal assistants flew off shelves during the holiday season. The full-size echo is out of stock until January 26, and the smaller Dot was sold out for much of December. Though you can order both now, with such demand, there is little incentive for Amazon or any other store carrying the device to offer a discount until the fervor dies down.
Top 5 Stores to Shop in January
Beyond the categories above, there were five stores that really shined last year for sales during the first month of the year. We expect these retailers to offer top deals again this January.
Home Depot: Check out their overstock, outdoor, and winter storage sales for discounts of up to 75%.
JCPenney: Winter apparel is even better now than over Black Friday, so pick up a new parka as this department store cuts over 77% off.
Ashford: This watch site's Winter Clearance brought price lows on brands like Seiko and Bulova.
Jos. A. Bank: Between after-Christmas sales and Super Tuesday sales, we saw plenty of price lows on sweaters and pants at this menswear store.
B&H Photo Video: This store was a hotbed for deals on Android devices last year.