Cashing In on Clearance Racks
Anyone who’s ever visited a store shortly after the holidays and glanced in the direction of the customer service desk knows the sheer multitude of gifts returned. Ever wonder what happens to those tons of items returned? They often get discounted and placed directly in the clearance bin.
For the best clearance shopping opportunities after the holidays, check stores later in the day. This gives store employees ample time to process customer returns and retag items for sale.
Returned items that simply don’t sell despite a steep discount usually end up in local thrift shops. Not only do department and retail stores make great donations during this time, but so do the general public. People clearing out space at home to make room for newly gifted items or simply unloading gifts they received but don’t want also make great donations during this time.
As a general rule of thumb, the best time to shop thrift stores after the holidays is earlier in the week, but later in the day, as most people make donations during the weekend and this gives employees time to sift through and price the new donations for sale.
People make mistakes, and so do store employees. If you see more than one of the same item in the clearance bin but they’re marked with different prices, take both (or as many as you’d like to purchase) to the cash register. The lowest-marked price will usually be honored for all the same items in your purchase.
Shopping for Next Year’s Holiday
You might not be in the spirit to think about next year’s holiday, but now is certainly the best time to shop for it. Before you pack away all your holiday decorations and supplies, take stock of what you’ll need for next year and pick it up after the holiday for substantial savings.
If you found yourself short on lights, buy them now and pack them away, ready to use next year. If a few ornaments were casualties of this year’s festivities, buy the replacements now. Consider looking for next year’s holiday cards now also to have them ready to go early. You’ll be gratefully better prepared next year, and you’ll likely only pay pennies on the dollar.
Hitting the holiday sections of stores after the fact has other payoffs, too. You can pick up what you need now on the cheap, tuck it away for next year, and completely avoid the stress of contending with the holiday crowds next year.
The best time to purchase an artificial tree is right after Christmas. You’ll be able to get a higher-quality tree for a fraction of the original price
Don’t just think Christmas supplies at the after-the-holiday clearance racks. Stores stock their shelves with more than adequate supplies of a number of different items in the hopes to sell more of everything before the end of their fiscal year.
Much of this extra stock doesn’t sell and ends up deeply discounted after the beginning of January when it’s time to clear shelves once more. Make this your opportunity to stretch your dollar on a number of different purchases.
Manufacturers are quick to make a holiday version of almost anything, from paper towels and tissue boxes to even cleaning supplies. Many retailers are left with a bounty of it after the special day. If you’re willing to look at festive packaging around your home a bit longer, you can get these items at a deep discount.
Look for generic or solid-colored gift wrap now to use throughout the year. Red, green, gold, silver, brown, and white paper picked up now while the price is right can be personalized later with stickers and ribbon for other gift-giving situations.
Candles are a great bargain after the holidays. Purchase them now at a tremendous savings to use throughout the year and to give as gifts. Potpourri and air fresheners are another item often sent to the clearance bin during this time.
If you’d like to store it for next year, pack it tightly in a re-sealable plastic bag to preserve its strength. Be sure to store candles someplace cool so they don’t melt.
Watch this video of Leah Ingram, a frugal-living expert, and learn how to save for Christmas:
For some, the holidays present the only time of year to get really dressed up. Take advantage of the great deals on party clothing and evening wear after the holidays are over. Be careful when buying ahead for children, however.
You can save a ton, but the savings can be swiftly lost when the clothing is too small later. It’s better to select clothing a few sizes too big or that can be easily altered. Hemlines and sleeve lengths can all be shortened, so buy a size or two ahead.
Retailers as well as department stores often expand their baking and cooking supply sections during the holidays. They plan to profit off those eager to put on the huge family feasts in November and December. If you’re in the market for new cookware, baking sheets, or any other kitchen tool or gadget, check the clearance racks shortly after, and you’re sure to snag a great deal.
You may be tempted to invest in new storage bins to organize all your holiday supplies before packing them away. Retailers are hoping you’ll do this. Wait until mid-January or even February to buy these, and you can purchase them at a better price.
After-the-holiday savings aren’t limited to just the end of the year either. The weeks following Valentine’s Day are a great time for snatching up dollar-stretching bargains.
From gourmet chocolates to cozy pajamas to even luxury sheets and fancy soaps, the clearance bins are often filled to the brim with those little luxuries that demand a hefty price before the holiday. Stock up now for stretch-savvy splurging on yourself or for gifts later.
The clearance racks after Valentine’s Day can be filled with a great assortment of Christmas-type items as well. While it may very well be the last thing on your mind, look for red, gold, and silver wrapping paper, gift bags, bows, and ribbons you can use later on in the year.
It’s not exactly clearance, but most stores hold white sales during January, when you can secure discounted prices on towels, bed linens, and comforters. Be mindful, though, that some so-called white sales aren’t sales at all, but rather just overpriced home linens brought down to a reasonable price.
Retailers are banking on your New Year’s resolutions to make them big profits. Many well-intentioned consumers go out and plunk down hundreds of dollars to purchase exercise and sports equipment with the hopes of improving their health and physical fitness.
If you’re one of them, improve the fitness of your finances, too, by stalling on your purchase. Wait until late January or February instead and pick it up at a discounted price.
Keep your holidays bright without bursting your financial bubble by maintaining your dollar-stretching ways throughout the year. After all, dollar stretching is as much about spending your money to improve your life as it is about spending less. So get out and get merry, keeping more money in your pocket to jingle all the way home.
Don’t be so fast to purchase a new calendar. Get your calendar for pennies on the dollar by waiting until after the holidays to purchase it.