Whether or not your holidays were everything you wished for, January kicks off a new year, a new month and a new host of smart seasonal buys. In fact, early January is a very smart time to shop, given the number of New Year sales (our survey found that 59% of shoppers plan to hit New Year sales this year, armed with gift cards and store credits from making returns).
To help anyone whose New Year’s resolutions include saving money, we used our internal discount data to calculate average discounts January shoppers can expect in popular categories – and zero in on the best five categories to shop this month.
The 5 Smartest Things to Buy in January
Whatever you need to (or want to) buy in January, there are sales to shop and smart buys to make. Before you start shopping be sure to activate cash back offers for any stores you plan to shop, so that you can earn a percentage of what you spend BACK in your pocket.
1. Health/Fitness Products — Average Discount: 31%
When it comes to health and fitness products, January is one of the best times of the year to shop. Retailers know that shoppers are kicking off a new year of fitness goals and are competing for your business. So check out sales from Fitbit as well as any retailer (hint hint: Amazon) that carries smartwatches and fitness trackers. You’ll also find plenty of deals on at-home gym essentials (including dumbbells, mats and resistance bands) from sporting goods stores like Academy Sports + Outdoors and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
2. Personal Finance — Average Discount: 29% Off
It might be hard to believe that tax season is once again upon us. But employers are required to send W-2s by Jan. 31. And, as soon as yours arrives, that’s your signal to file.
However, you can start your e-file process with your online tax software of choice early, and your return will be transferred to the IRS whenever it’s ready for it.
Filing as early as you can is a smart move from a budget standpoint. Online tax software companies often offer early-bird discounts in January, in hopes of attracting filers and wooing them away from their competitors. In fact, many online tax services allow you to import a previous year’s return from a competitor to make switching over extra easy.
- TurboTax: Be sure to take advantage of the TurboTax free version, if you qualify, and get 1% cash back the entire month of January from RetailMeNot.
- H&R Block: Get up to 20% off H&R Block’s services.
- TaxAct: Get up to 50% off with these early bird specials. Plus, get 1% cash back from RetailMeNot.
3. Computers — Average Discount: 26%
Our data shows January as a sweet spot for buying computers. Surprised? That’s because electronics retailers tend to have leftover ungifted inventory after Black Friday and the whole holiday season. The next big opportunity to save on computers will be in July and late summer (during Prime Day and back-to-school sales).
Here’s where to shop:
- Best Buy: Check for New Year’s Day weekend deals, as well as early-January deals.
- HP: The Red Tag sale offers savings early in the year (up to 80% off, if you’re flexible on the machine and specs).
- Lenovo: Check for New Year sales during the Jan. 1 holiday weekend and at the start of January.
- Dell: Dell is running a New Year sale through Jan. 1, and we expect deals in the days immediately following as well.
4. Clothing (Winter Fashion) — Average Discount: 24%
The first week of January will be full of fashion deals, as that’s when retailers run their New Year clearance sales. Knowing that shoppers will be out in droves returning gifts they don’t want, retailers are ready with deals on purses and accessories that scream, “You deserve this, after the holidays!” The Dillard’s New Year sale is particularly famous when it comes to handbags (expect an almost Black Friday-like rush). And the Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual sale (which usually runs through the first week or so of January) offers up to 60% off.
Seasonal clearance sales will soon follow, as January is when retailers already start making room for spring fashions. That means hats and colder-weather wear will start to make their way to the discount racks. And, best of all, selection will still be high.
And don’t forget outerwear. January is a smart time to shop for ski gear, insulated boots, beanies, flannels, thermals and more. Winter always lasts longer than you want it too, so there’s time to use that stuff yet this year. Plus, you can save it for next year and have it ready at the beginning of the season, when prices on outdoor winter gear will be at their highest. Academy Sports + Outdoors and Dick’s Sporting Goods are great places to start.
5. Hotels & Resorts — Average Discount: 22% Off
The time between the holidays and spring break is a bit of a dead zone for travel companies. So, to tempt everyone to splurge to get somewhere warm, travel providers will be offering discounts on hotel rooms, resort bookings, cruises, tours and vacation packages.
Note that many of these deals will be location specific, depending on where booking sites happen to have empty rooms. So rather than insisting on a specific destination, follow the deals and let them lead you to somewhere unexpected.
Honorable Mention: Bedding & Bath Items
While most retailers don’t all them “White Sales” anymore, the tradition of marking down sheets and towels in January still goes strong around the middle of the month. We’ll be rounding up all the best White Sales here as they go live. While, traditionally, these sales focused on linen-cabinet stuff, plenty of these sales are pretty broad and offer savings on home decor and home goods as well.