Ask Jeanne

Ask Jeanne Holiday Sales

Out and about doing last minute shopping, lots of sales have already started. In your experience, what should I buy now, and what is worth waiting for further reductions on?
— Sandy


Dear Sandy:

As tempting as so many of the sales are right now, my rule of thumb is to usually wait until right after Christmas for the big bargains, if you can. Of course, if it’s something that’s in limited quantity, grab it now, because by the Christmas has come and gone, stock may run out, or sizes may be extremely limited. Still, there are always those items that are reduced even further once the craziness of Christmas dies down, especially since the new spring merchandise traditionally arrives at the stores in mid February and merchants have to make room for all the new stuff. Some stores even sell products at a loss, just so they can generate sales. So some of those deals are truly incredible. And have you noticed that prices are being increasingly slashed? What started out at 40% and 50% is quickly turning into 60% and 70 %, and that trend is something that really escalates as we move toward the New Year.


I find that many traditional gift items, like perfumes, cosmetics, lingerie, and accessories, are reduced even further after Christmas, or just before, if you don’t mind the stress of doing your present-shopping right down to the wire. Likewise for the kind of glitzy fashion fare that you’d wear to holiday parties. Of course, there are no rules here: You just never know. But it’s common sense that anything with a holiday sort of theme, like candles, tableware, blankets, and perhaps sleepwear is reduced even further once “gift giving” time draws to an end. Jewelry is usually greatly reduced in January, and so are fitness products, with so many people resolving to “get into shape” once the holidays are over. And of course, January is the big month for “white sales” should you be in the market for linens. If it’s fab winter wear you’re craving, and can hold on ‘til just after Christmas, that really would be the time to go for it. But if you’re looking to score something before Christmas, even waiting ‘til the last weekend before the holiday would be your best bet. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, you do risk the chance that the item will be sold out, or you won’t be able to get the size you need. The same goes for winter boots. That’s just the gamble you have to take if you’re looking for jackpot savings.

I think what becomes increasingly tough is all those appealing products and prices out there. It seems almost mandatory to make a list and stick to it, or you might suffer from what’s been called the “Santa Syndrome”, where you just keep adding on to people’s gifts because there’s so much out there that’s irresistible. (i.e. You’ve decided to get new make-up brushes for your sister, but then you see a lovely cosmetics bag on sale that you know would go wonderfully well with the brushes…and all of a sudden, you’ve got a bigger, double-barreled gift!) That kind of over-spending really can wreak havoc with your budget, and before you know it, you’ve gone overboard, regardless of all the great “deals” you may be getting. Remember, most things in life come with a price—and convenience is certainly one of them. If you want the ease of just doing your shopping when it’s most convenient for you, and not holding out for the best price possible, then bite the bullet and be willing to spend a little more. The most important thing is not to start kicking yourself when you’ve already shopped and then see prices start to drop even more drastically than they already have. Buying presents for loved ones should ideally be as much of a joy as giving and receiving them!