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Score gifts for less after the holidays.


There are few lumps of coal as heavy or black as a delinquent credit card.

When you’re heading out to the outlet center this year, think about the long term impact of your holiday spending.The holiday shopping craze tends to alter our judgment about what make good gifts. Moreover, it makes us think we’re getting great deals on big ticket items when in fact, the most popular gifts become substantially cheaper at other times of the year.

Take for example power tools. Lowes and Home Depot pitch everything from socket sets to arch welders this time of year, aiming squarely at women in search of the perfect gift for their husbands. However, if mom would wait until next Father’s Day, she’ll find the same stuff for close to 25 percent less than they are around the winter holidays.

Big screen televisions sure appear to be cheap before the New Year but in fact, come March, new models start to show up on electronic stores’ walls, making later January and February the best time of the year to score deals on flat screens. The old inventory has to go and is often marked down substantially. Ask for a floor model and you’ll get even a better deal.

Computers seem to be popular holiday gifts as well. They make better gifts come early spring and summer though, when prices drop to attract high school graduates and college students. You should have no problem finding computers at around 20 percent less than they are around the holidays.

Okay, so this sounds odd but trust us, it makes sense. Snow blowers become very cheap in the spring and early summer. It’s a pretty simple concept really: hardware stores and home improvement retailers need to make room for lawnmowers and landscaping equipment. They would much rather have a snow blower taking up room in your garage than on their inventory list. We know, living in North Carolina doesn’t really require the need to own a snow blower. Then again, no one needs a Hummer H2 either, and they’re all over the place.

The same seasonal strategy for snow blowers can be used for outerwear like hard shell jackets, ski gear and fleece vests. Specifically, check out an outdoor shop’s Web page to find serious discounts on some really high-end gear. The outdoor products industry is very fickle and product lines change rapidly with new fabrics and features. You can score great cold weather gear in the summer.

Warmer months are also the best time to nail down your ski and snowboard equipment as shops and retailers clear out the previous year’s inventory and even old rental gear, which can always be found at steep discounts.

Since North Carolina is one the nation’s top furniture markets, we often get tempted to snag that new love seat around the holiday shopping season. However, manufacturers roll out new products in February. Since furniture stores are all about making room on their floors and many of their sales people are commission based, you can negotiate yourself some terrific deals after the start of the year without having to find a way to put a sectional under the tree.

Lastly, don’t give the gift of debt by surprising someone with a large ticket item that costs them money to keep, like cars. You’ll never find a bow that big anyway.

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