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December 2020 sales: How to find the best shopping deals now

Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Week level sales and other holiday deals on TVs, tech, apparel and more.
Image: December Sales
December is full of Black Friday worthy sales and holiday deals from retailers like Nordstrom, Walmart and Target. Here's what to shop for this month and what can wait.iRobot/iHealth/TCL Roku TV/Nintendo

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We're more than halfway through December and while the holiday season in in full swing, there are still plenty of end-of-year sales and winter and holiday deals. Retailers like Macy’s, Target and Walmart are reducing prices on everything from festive decor to toys, video games and more. To better understand how to shop this month — especially if you’re still on the hunt for any last minute gifts — and save during December, we consulted retail expert Julie Ramhold from DealNews.com.

What stores are having big sales right now

While only some of these sales are Black Friday and Cyber Monday-level deep, many come close to those discounts and others are still worthwhile. We looked through what’s on offer and list some of the best ongoing sales below. Not every deal within each sale will be the best available given the breadth of discounts in each, but the following will give you an idea of what’s on offer at your preferred retailers or which of the items on your shopping (or gifting) list is on sale.

Best sales: reader favorite brands and retailers

Best sales: home and kitchen

Best sales: tech and gadgets

Best sales: wellness and self-care

Best sales: fashion and style

Best deals to shop right now

1. iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer

This iHealth thermometer is Amazon’s No. 1 bestselling health care thermometer and was one of NBC News Shopping readers' most purchased items during Cyber Monday. It uses infrared technology to detect your temperature from 3 centimeters away and works in about one second. When finished it will display the reading in large, white LED lights that can be seen in dark environments.

2. AeroGarden Harvest with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit

As winter is nearly upon us and Covid-19 restrictions continue to rise, you may be feeling stuck inside your home and indoor plants can create the illusion of being outdoors. The AeroGarden Harvest comes with half-a-dozen pre-seeded pods and allows you to grow everything from flowers to thyme and dill year-round and without water or sunlight. It features LED lights, is equipped with an automatic timer and is easy to use.

3. iRobot Roomba i7 (7150) Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi

If you're looking for a Roomba, consider iRobot Roomba i7. It has greater suction power, sports two multi-surface rubber brushes to sweep up pet hair without getting tangled and is equipped with an allergen filter and dirt detect sensors. It also features smart mapping to know what areas need cleaning and which to avoid, as well as an automatic dirt disposal and more. Plus, you can set cleaning schedules through the iRobot HOME app.

4. TCL 40S325 40 Inch 1080p Smart LED ROKU TV

If you could use a new TV, consider the TCL 40S325 smart TV. Another Shopping bestseller during Cyber Monday, this 40-inch TV is equipped with Wi-Fi, features access to more than 5,000 streaming channels and fits well in most living rooms. It also includes voice control through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

5. Eddie Bauer Flannel Button-Down Shirt

Another Shopping bestseller from Cyber Monday, this long-sleeve flannel by Eddie Bauer is made from 100-percent cotton that's been brushed on both sides for a soft feel. It's machine-washable and includes fade-resistant technology and a pocket detail at the chest. Plus, it comes in over half-a-dozen colors and patterns, including Royal Red and Bone.

6. Joy-Con Charging Dock for Nintendo Switch

Consider gifting this Joy-Con charging doc to a gamer in your life (or yourself) this holiday season. The dock can charge up to four Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers at once. It includes a USB port to plug into an outlet or your computer when it needs more power. Additionally, the dock features a weighted base for stability. Once your controllers are charged, a green light will appear.

Best things to buy in December and what can wait

During December, Ramhold suggested readers keep an eye out for special offers on gift cards, including "buy-one-give-one" deals from stores and restaurants. And while the largest discounts on holiday decor are likely to be seen after Christmas, Ramhold said we can still expect substantial discounts by mid-December, leaving plenty of time to save during this shopping season.

Ramhold also said that now is an especially good time to purchase video games, including PC games on Steam and GOG.com, as well as DVDs and Blu-rays as gifts or in bulk. “Look for collections of 20 movies to go for around $24, or sets like Game of Thrones to be under $200 for the entire series.”

Lastly, Ramhold said, we can expect after-Christmas sales on everything from clothing and the aforementioned holiday decorations and video games, to select TVs, portable speakers and more.

While there are many things to save on in December, there are products Ramhold said shoppers should hold off on purchasing this month, including fitness equipment, bedding and winter clothing. Although we might see some attractive home gym or winter clothing deals, Ramhold said all of these items should see larger price discounts and a wider variety during January.

According to a RetailMeNot survey from late November, 93-percent of surveyors had yet to finish gift shopping for the season. Four in five shoppers said they felt confident in their ability to purchase gifts online that would arrive in time for the holidays. Ramhold also cautioned shoppers regarding major shipping delays this year by shopping early and considering backup plans, as well as directly shipping gifts to recipients. For instance, FedEx, UPS and other delivery services are bracing themselves for a potential “shortfall of as many as 7 million packages a day,” NBC News reported in October.

“With the carriers having troubles and forecasting delays, there's a good chance paying that extra amount won't get your items to you any faster,” she said. “Instead, save that extra cash and consider warning your recipient their gift might be late this year.”

Catch up on the latest from NBC News Shopping guides and recommendations and download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Looking for the perfect gift? Check out the Shop TODAY Holiday Plaza.