Surprise! Black Friday isn't the only time of year to get some of the best retail deals. In fact, January sales can be a smart shopper's dream come true, provided you know how to search for and find the latest and greatest sales prices. Shoppers make about 82% of their purchase decisions in the store, but before you head to the nearest retail outlet to scope out the shelves, it's important to have a game plan.
Here are just a few tips for getting the best retail deals this January.
Hit The Internet
Research is becoming more and more of an essential element of making major purchases, and oftentimes, even smaller ones. Between checking retail sites for reviews, coupons, or other promotions, it can be difficult to figure out just where to start. That's why Ideal Home suggests doing some sort of online research before stepping foot in a store.
"Search online before you hit the stores so you know what to expect and what prices you are bargaining with. Preparation is key when tackling January sales in stores," says Ideal Home.
About 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and fortunately, many major retailers offer the same prices online as they do in stores. Plus, with the convenience of having the option to pick up your order in stores after selecting purchases online, you may be able to avoid the crowds and the shipping wait. It's a win-win!
Bring The Essentials
Much like Black Friday, January sales shopping usually takes several hours, and you can definitely expect to wait in at least a few lines. This means you need to come fully prepared with shopping essentials, including a water bottle and a snack. Of course, always wear shoes that are protective and comfortable. You may also want to consider leaving your coat in the car if you don't think you'll need it inside or it's large and bulky. Bringing the right items -- and only the right items -- can help you get around faster, avoid unnecessary crows, and stay as comfortable as possible during your shopping excursion.
Coupon Like a Pro
You don't have to be an obsessive coupon clipper to know that these deals can save you a ton of money. Keep an eye on the local paper during the post-holiday season, as many retailers will be trying to clear out their winter and holiday stock before spring arrives. Better yet, take your coupon hunting online. Not only can you find a number of great post-holiday e-commerce sales, but you can also download browser extensions that automatically hunt for discount codes, sales, and coupons for you. Life Hacker has a roundup of some of the best coupon hunting extensions, so take advantage of these tools and stop leaving money on the digital table!
Don't Neglect Gift Cards And Returns
Finally, if you plan on doing all of your shopping in stores as opposed to online, it's important to remember to incorporate any stores you have gift cards or returns for in your game plan. This allows you to make your money go further while improving efficiency as well. With the money you could get from gift cards and return credits, you're almost certain to drastically lower the amount you end up paying out-of-pocket.
Ultimately, being aware of these tips can help you make the most of your January shopping and sales-hunting endeavors. Consumers spend an annual average of $1,700 on apparel and related services each year, and these tips can help you save money on almost any type of apparel or retail purchase.