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What experts recommend shopping for in January — and what can wait

Experts share the best products to buy in January and why you may want to hold on purchasing others if you can.
Woman on her phone outside
During January, experts recommend looking for deals on fitness gear and apparel, health tech, TVs, gaming consoles and more. Kara Birnbaum / TODAY

A new year gives us a fresh start, and many use that as an opportunity to invest in products and services that align with their 2023 goals. And despite January usually being a quieter month for shopping since it’s after the holiday season, many retailers offer sales and deals, especially over the three day Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.

To help guide your shopping this month, we talked to experts about what to buy in January and what you may want to hold off on if possible.

What to buy in January

As you’re browsing retailers’ sites this month, you’ll notice that many are slashing prices on products across categories. Part of the reason for this is due to some retailers having higher than normal inventory levels at the end of 2022, said Lauren Murphy, director at Wells Fargo. Retailers may have over-purchased items since they were concerned about supply chain issues. But since the supply chain has normalized, many retailers ended up with too much stock at one time, resulting in discounts across product categories.

With that being said, not every deal that’s part of a sale is a good one, so it’s helpful to hone in on the following key categories to ensure you’re shopping wisely this month.

  • Fitness gear and apparel: “New Year’s resolutions conjure up inspiration to find ways to feel better, and retailers respond with deep discounts from 20-30% off newer, high-tech fitness gear and apparel at all the major sporting goods outlets and big box retailers, as well as 20-40% off home fitness equipment from major and budget brands,” said Vipin Porwal, founder and consumer savings expert at Smarty.
  • Health tech: With many people making 2023 health goals, brands often discount smart tech to track your health, including fitness trackers. Porwal also said January “is a good time to take advantage of trial subscriptions on those fitness apps you’ve been wanting to check out.”
  • TVs: Leading up to football games in February, you’ll find plenty of TV deals. Porwal said you can expect a TV selection similar to what we saw during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and prices may even be lower than they were around the holidays. When buying TVs and other pricey tech, remember to take advantage of price matching when possible and discounts on services or protection offerings, Porwal noted.
  • Gaming consoles: Brands debuted lots of new tech at the 2023 Consumer Electronic Show, so we know what is expected to launch in the coming year. Gaming companies typically release their newest consoles towards the beginning of the year, so you’re likely to start seeing the price of previous models drop. “Look for popup sales events featuring great pricing on previous Xbox and PS4 consoles and bundles, along with deals on new video games and online gaming subscriptions, comparable to holiday discounts,” Porwal said.
  • Winter apparel and holiday goods: To make room for spring and summer inventory, retailers have to clear out their winter and holiday products. Murphy said retailers would rather sell merchandise at steep discounts now than be forced to pack away inventory until the next selling season, so look out for sales on these items if you’re in the market for them.
  • Furniture: As people spent more time at home in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, many redecorated their living spaces by purchasing new furniture. The surge in orders resulted in furniture delivery having long lead times, and it kept prices high. But demand curtailed quickly in 2022 due to a shift in spending to other areas outside of the home, Murphy said. “Furniture retailers are now chasing sales with “zero-interest financing,” which can equate to significant savings for consumers in this rates environment,” she added. However, keep in mind that there may be deeper discounts on furniture during sales events later this year.

What to buy later this year

If you’re in the market for big ticket items like home and kitchen appliances, mattresses and furniture, Porwal recommends waiting until bigger sales events later this year. He said President’s Day — Feb. 20 in 2023 — is the first big chance to find discounts on these items, in addition to tax-return sales, which retailers tend to host around February and April when filers know they’re getting refunds.

Additionally, Murphy said shoppers won’t see bargains on spring and summer apparel yet since many retailers are just debuting their collections now.

Are MLK Day 2023 sales worth it?

Three day holiday weekends are typically prime opportunities for retailers to host sales, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day — which is recognized on January 16, 2023 — is the first one of the year. But compared to holidays like President’s Day and Memorial Day, sales are not as plentiful and not as many retailers participate, experts told us. If you’re looking to purchase a specific product right now, it could be beneficial for you to browse MLK Day sales, but if not, you may want to hold off.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Vipin Porwal is the founder and a consumer savings expert at Smarty, a cashback browser extension.
  • Lauren Murphy is the director at Wells Fargo.

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