The temperature may still be freezing outside and here in the Northeast we’re still looking at peaks of snow from last weekend’s blizzard but believe it or not in the retail world spring is arriving in just a few short weeks. February is the time of year when winter is ushered out the door and spring merchandise begins to arrive despite the fact that February is the coldest month of the year. Retailers must make room for the new goods, not only in apparel areas but home goods, electronics and furniture as well. This means lots of February bargains. And guess what?
2016’s winter clearance may be a record setter!
Fall and early winter weather in 2015 was the warmest period on record for November and December according to the National Weather Service and that means that winter apparel such as coats, scarves, gloves, and sweaters just didn’t sell very well. Retailers are now glutted with merchandise that is sitting on shelves that must be cleared for spring merchandise which is just a couple weeks away from its delivery. This year, holiday results were poor on winter goods despite overall decent total sale performances, so this February could be record setting for deep discounts.
The sale period for Presidents Day (this year February 15th) is traditionally the kick off for clearing out winter. Sales, however, always begin early and stay late and this year may even be more so…many sales have already begun! Stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Eddie Bauer, and Kohl’s for example, have had clearance prices of 50% or more already in January and you can look for prices on clothing and accessories to drop to 60-70% once President Day sales begin to be advertised.
The best part of the advertised sales is always the opportunity to use store coupons in addition to the sales prices to get really super savings. The stacking of coupons, using them with sales, will raise your discounts to up to 80-90% off this year due to stores’ desperation to move their merchandise. It’s worth looking online at the stores you love to shop for their ads and coupons as well as checking out sites like RetailMeNot and Groupon. Even the old fashioned way, picking up your Sunday newspaper, will get you the information and coupons you want.
Just one word of caution: this year the number of final sales will be increasing because of the push on winter clearance. Be careful with your selections when it comes to fit and color choices because you may not be able to return the items. Make sure you ask about the return policies before you make your purchase.
In addition to apparel sales, February has some other great traditional deals to look at. Mattresses are a huge promotional category with savings of up to 70%. Sears was a leader last year in promoting them and will be again, along with the many others like Sleepy’s and online retailers. Look for the special add-ons as well like free delivery, removal of old mattress, free bedframes and pillows, even sheets are given away with these sales. Sears has been including gift cards when you purchase as well so take advantage of it if bedding is your plans.
Furniture at all of the big stores will also be deeply on sale as new merchandise is beginning to roll in to the sales floors. Stores like Ashley and Raymour & Flanigan will be featuring 30-50% off with all kinds of bundles (room settings and bedroom groups) to get you to buy more at great incentives.
There are a few others sales worth noting. Tax software at stores like Staples and Office Max/Office Depot run hot in February. Prepping for your 2016 taxes is on the minds of most people and using this kind of software is increasing every year in popularity. Purchasing Turbo Tax or H&R Block’s software now will save you 50% or even more. The savings are even greater if your taxes are done with the accuracy it provides and you’ll save time by filing electronically and get any refund more quickly. We’ll talk about taxes in a later post, but get your software now if that’s important to you. It will never be as cheap during the rest of the year.
Electronics will be promoted heartily in the next week to 10 days. Super Bowl Sunday (February 7th) is a time when retailers push big screen TV’s. This comes on the heels of the big Consumer Electronics Show that introduces all new tech for so many items including TV’s. So many changes occur and so quickly that 1080p TV has now become the value standard and you will see 40-55 inch TV’s selling for well under $300 this upcoming month. Honesty compels me to say that February isn’t the number one time of the year to buy electronics. That would be in November during the holidays. But you will see a bombardment of advertising, discounts and yes, even coupons, for Best Buy, Sears, and other stores to propel you to come in and buy one.
Lastly, and certainly not least, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Jewelry, flowers, dining out, and candy are usually the big promotional categories and while there will be modest savings in all of these categories you should remember that since demand is very high, the prices won’t be the lowest you will see. Savings of 20-30% on most sale jewelry is to be fairly common, but look at stores like Kohl’s, Kay’s, and online stores as they have been known for deeper discounts on selected items. Last year we found Kohl’s promoting at up to 90% off when combined with their discount and coupons.
Try sites like 1-800-Flowers and FTD and others for best flower delivery options for that loved one who is far away. Local florists will advertise heavily for you to save when picking up yourself and making your own delivery! Or head to the supermarket for your flowers. You may find yourself impressed with their options.
For dining out, you will see no shortage of promotional dining for romantic couples all over town. Although you won’t see deep discounts, you will see great full course special dining with extras like champagne, music, and dancing included where normally it wouldn’t be a part of the experience. It’s probably never going to be a bargain, but if you’ve been frugal all of 2015, perhaps you and your loved one deserve a small splurge? After all, you are planning to save a lot of money from all of these sales events so you just might be able to do it!
Just remember, a February bargain is only a bargain if it’s something you need or truly want and can afford. Don’t go shopping just because there are sales, and don’t believe the retail hype when the price tag says 90% off. Be smart with your shopping and take advantage of the sales when it makes sense for you.
What’s on your shopping list for winter clearances? Have you had success in saving at this time of the year? Where do you find the best bargains at the end of this season?