It's tempting to do just about anything (read: brave Black Friday crowds) to get the gift your kid covets and your wallet will appreciate. But despite the 40 percent of Americans who believe the biggest sales of the season are on Black Friday, the best time to purchase toys is the two weeks leading up to Christmas. "You'll find a lot of toy sales closer to Christmas as retailers start clearing up inventory," says Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings expert. Considering parents spend an average of $271 per child on Christmas gifts, waiting a couple of weeks could save you a few precious bucks. The one exception: If you're looking for the hottest new toy it may be worth scouting for sales on Black Friday. These popular items sometimes sell out closer to the holidays. (Looking for a stress-free Thanksgiving? Get our FREE guide for an unforgettable Thanksgiving. You'll get easy recipes, kid-friendly crafts and games, inspiring traditions, and more ideas for the best holiday yet.)
"Some TVs are made specifically for Black Friday," says Woroch. "So we see low prices, but they may not have certain features." If the retailer worked out a deal with the manufacturer to produce Black Friday-specific products (known as "derivative products"), your discounted TV may have a lower-quality display, lack certain audio features, or be impossible to repair past its warranty. Popular companies like Sony and Samsung have manufactured derivative TVs in previous years. Here's a good way to tell: Research the TV model number. If you don't see the model offered at other retailers, it was likely manufactured specifically for that store's Black Friday deals. A better time to find TV discounts? The week leading up to the Super Bowl. Retailers push to move inventory, and big screens run 5 to 10 percent cheaper than they do during the three months before and after the game.
Fitness gear and equipmentiStock/PhotoSouth
Congrats on being ahead of the New Year's resolution curve, but wait until January to upgrade your elliptical. The post-holiday season is the most competitive time for the fitness industry to snag your business by making big markdowns on equipment and workout apparel. If you're part of the 76 percent of men and 87 percent of women who pledge to drop pounds in the New Year, you'll find the year's deepest discounts on exercise equipment in January, with fitness gear sales ranging from 40 to 90 percent off. (Related: Here are the resolutions health experts wish you would make.)
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Hold off until late January or February, after the International Consumer Electronics Show (held January 5-8 in 2017). "It's a popular trade show where different brands are releasing the newest products with the most updated, coolest features," says Woroch. "Manufacturers are trying to sell their new products, so you can get really good deals on last year's models." If you spot a gadget discount on Black Friday, investigate the typical retail price before buying. Stores may announce "30 percent off" a certain model, but sometimes base that discount on the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP). Most retailers already sell goods for less than MSRP, so the "discount" may be the same or nearly the same price the store usually offers.
If you're shopping for an item on someone's holiday wish list, grab a Black Friday deal. But when it comes to stocking up on your own winter gear, wait until February if you can. "It's the end of the season, so winter apparel will be deeply discounted," says Woroch. One Black Friday clothing deal worth pursuing: buy-one-get-one-free sweaters. "Sweaters are one of the most popular gift items for women," says Woroch. "Retailers know it, so they offer good sales." (Related: Here's how to make your favorite sweaters last forever.)
Eight out of 10 Americans buy new tools at least once a year, according to a FatWallet survey, but there's a better time for discounts than Black Friday. "Tools are a big item for Father's Day, so tool manufacturers really push sales on products in large volumes," says Woroch. "That's when you'll find the biggest sales on those items." This time of year, consider a tech device, like a tablet or iPhone. Big brands mark down tablets, a popular gift, for the holidays, and Apple typically doesn't offer product discounts throughout the rest of the year.
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