You’ve gotta spend money to make money. I know this is a business mantra, but it is absolutely true when it comes to sales shopping. Every year, I use post-holiday sales to stock up for the coming years’ special occasions. This “hack” makes a big difference in what you spend on purchases you are planning to make in the future.
What makes shopping post-holiday sales worth the work
Shopping post-holiday clearance is work. Every year, I know what I need to do to get the best deals and struggle to want to do it. Because we just spent money on Christmas magic and my house is overwhelmed with new things, it is hard to motivate myself to go buy more. This is when it is critical to remind myself how grateful I will be when I can give a birthday present for a third of the retail price. Or how good I will feel being prepared for that party without rushing to the store.
Where I look for clearance
Where in town should a deal shopper look? We’ve shopped all season and bought a lot of the things we need so what could we possibly want from what is left? Some good stores to look at for these deals are Target, Bakers, Hallmark or calendar stores, and Walgreens. I hear some people also have good luck at Walmart and Barnes and Noble, although I have never learned their markdown systems well. Wherever you land, remember my first rule is that I do not buy anything unless it is at least 70% off (which is totally doable after the holidays).
My favorite stop: Target
I am most acquainted with Target’s clearance system. They mark everything down to 50% off the day after Christmas and then 2-3 days later markdown to 70% off and then 2-3 days later it goes to 90%. (Exact dates vary. I follow All Things Target group on Facebook for the more exact date each year). Around Omaha, there isn’t much left by the time it gets to 90%, but if you get there on the morning of the first day of 70% you can get a pretty decent selection.
Some years, I have had to go by the store multiple days to check for markdowns. It is a rush when I do hit that sale at the right time! Part of my game plan is that in days leading up to the markdown, I will visit a couple of my closest Target stores and get a sense of what I want to buy and what inventory looks like. If there is a greater stock of an item that I want, I will feel better waiting for the markdown. On occasion, if I want something enough and inventory is low enough, I will grab it at 50% but I do that rarely.
The things I most like to buy from post-Christmas clearance are products that are not overtly Christmasy that I can use in Easter baskets (lip gloss, stocking stuffers, dollar spot items), specialty food items that put relief on the grocery budget (pretzels, cookies, specialty nuts), and Christmas wrapping paper and decorations for the next year. Two years ago, I bought the on display Christmas tree at 70% off and that has blessed my family for years. That same year, a lot of Magnolia home decor went on sale too, and it was neutral enough to be used year-round!
Target Toy Clearance
Target has another trick up its sleeve in January! Every year they clearance out most of the toys they received over the holiday season. Something to note is that these clearance items will only go as low as 70% off. Usually, this happens on a Thursday the last week or two of January. Toy clearance markdowns are always on Thursday (each department has a different day it does markdowns). The store starts by marking toys 30%, then 50%, and finally goes down to 70%. During this sale, I will go to multiple stores on 70% off in the morning and buy presents for birthday celebrations and even next Christmas. This is my favorite way to stock up on good items for those classmates’ parties.
Some tips for other stores in town
I have also had some success getting clearance at Walgreens, Bakers and mall stores. These markdowns will happen more on a few days to a week after the holiday timeline to get the best deals. At these stores, I usually buy Christmas decorations (like lights—they are so expensive otherwise) and wrapping paper at rock bottom prices. Last year, I even bought gift bags that were neutral enough to not look like Christmas at 70% off.
It takes some work, but it is worth it for the payoff in the future.