How to Score the Best Discounts After the Holidays

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration and gift-giving and it feels like it goes by so quickly and then comes right back again just as fast! As the festivities start to wind down, savvy shoppers can take advantage of those after-holiday sales. While most think of taking advantage of holiday sales around Christmas, there are other holidays with seasonal items too, and these tips work for those as well, so think outside of the box! You can score some pretty incredible deals, get discounts and bargains that will allow you to save more and spend less. You might even be able to give more generously because you are able to get such a great deal! Whether you're a seasoned bargain hunter or new to the game, this guide will help equip you with the tips I've been using for decades so that you can navigate and make the most of those after-holiday sales.


How to Score the Best Discounts After the Holidays

score the best deals after the holidays

Don't miss this post: 10 Items to Stock up On After the Holidays

Understanding After-Holiday Sales

After holiday sales typically start right after a major celebration or holiday like Christmas, New Year's or other festive occasion. They are often seasonal, but sometimes what is considered seasonal, may just be based on a color {think pastel spring cups or soft green blankets} and items can be used year-round. Retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar, use this period of time to clear out excess inventory accumulated during the various holiday or seasonal rush. They usually offer substantial discounts and promotions to attract customers so they can make room for new merchandise.

Pro tip: Some items are labeled holiday for no other reason than they are part of a collection. I've got several decor and home items that were labeled holiday and were purchased at 75% off or more, but that I use year-round because they match my decor. Not everything holiday has a big Santa on it!

Plan Ahead and Seat a Budget

Before you dive into shopping after-holiday sales, think about your budget and think ahead to what you might need. We give gifts to our neighbors every year. I try to purchase them on sale after the holidays so that I can still be generous, but stick within a budget. I also like to keep in mind gifts for teachers {don't forget back-to-school}, stocking stuffers, prizes for games and more! 

The allure of the discount might tempt you to buy something you don't need. So set off with a clear budget and a clear plan of what you are looking for. Even if that clear plan is just to find 12 neighbor gifts for next year for under $3 each. 

Keep an Eye on Pre-Sale Announcements

I've been shopping after-holiday sales for decades. I remember 25+ years ago, waking up early on the day after Christmas knowing that everything holiday would be 50% off. It's no longer like that. Thanks to social media, there are TikTok and Instagram creators all over who are helping to point you in the right direction with sales.

A lot of retailers are now marking items down BEFORE the holiday even happens. Following those deal hunters will help you keep tabs on when markdowns might be happening, but know that it's all based regionally and what one person finds at their Target in Tennessee might not be discounted {or even available} at your store on the west coast. Ask me how I know!

Trade the Online Shopping for In-Store

If you are a die hard online shopper, you aren't going to be privy to the same deals and sales you will find in-store. The customer base is just so much larger online that you might not find the same deals {if any!} that you could find in-store. In-store shopping is going to give you the chance to find those hidden gems you might not be able to find online. 

Timing is Key

Timing plays a crucial role in after-holiday sales. While discounts might be significant right after the holiday, they may get even steeper as the sale progresses. However, if you wait too long, you might risk missing out on sometimes because it sells out quickly. I usually check the stock, and if it's running low, I'll know that the current discount might be the best I can do. If there's a lot of stock left, I might take the risk and wait to get a bigger discount later. 

You've got to strike a balance by monitoring prices and availability and make your move when it hits a point you feel comfortable with. 

Protip: this is a good time to learn about the stores return and price match policy. Sometimes the items that are discounted will have a stricter return policy and they often won't price adjust. So if you buy an item for 50% off and it goes on sale for 90% off the next week {well within their normal price adjustment policy window}, they may not {probably won't} honor it. 

Be Willing to Store Items

When shopping for discounts, you've got to be willing to store items. This is especially true if you are looking at seasonal items that you won't be able to use or gift until the next holiday rolls around, usually in 360+ days or so! I have a few shelves in a linen closet I have set aside for bargain deals I find. I also try to keep some room in Christmas bins in case I find a holiday item I just can't pass up!


Some Practical Tips to Scoring the Best Discount After the Holidays

1. Wander the Aisles

While it is super convenient to find all of the holiday items in one place, it's often the items that aren't with all the markdowns that you'll find the best deals. Look up and down all the aisles looking for items that might be labeled or marked with holiday packaging. This could mean that you find baking flour with decorated in a Christmas package, or a razor gift set that has been packaged with snowflakes. Both items are usable beyond the holidays, and I promise you, the razor in the box with the snowflake, is the exact same one inside as the one in the regular's just 50% off or more!

There are obvious main aisles in a department store, but I find the best deals are usually at the end caps or in the aisles that aren't often on the main path. Walk the perimeter of the store and hit those lesser known spots to find some deals.

2. Take Advantage of the Self-Scanner

The making of the self-scanner is the best invention! Holiday items are often moved around often, and in the move, their little price tags rarely come with them. Those self-scanners are a great way to find the price of the item, but they also might show you a sale you weren't expecting!

For instance, all of our holiday items were marked with a sign that said 50% off today, but I found a candle that was obviously being marketed as a holiday candle and took it to the self-scanner and found that it rang up 90% off! The signs don't always keep up with the main department store system.

3. Look at the Labels

A lot of retail stores offer collaborations with brands {think Hearth & Hand by Magnolia at Target} and the label might say spring or fall, but it's an item that can obviously be used anytime of the year. I often find blankets, pillows, and decor items that have been marked as seasonal, but that fit my home decor and can be used year-round. So pay attention to those labels. They often won't be obviously on sale, but once you go that self-scanner, you might just find a deal!

4. Think Outside of the Box

You know those red M&M's that are on sale after Christmas? They work great for Valentine's day baking! A small gift that's got a holiday label on it, can easily be repackaged with other items making it work for a different holiday or season. Those New Year's decorations that say the date? If you've got a graduate that coming year, you'll save money on party decor! Think outside of the box when shopping. You'll end up saving some cash!

After holiday sales, no matter what holiday, provide you with the opportunity to score a deal. I'm all about living well on less so that I can spend more on things that really matter to me. It's important for me to be generous, but to also be able to be generous without breaking the bank. After holiday sales enable me to do just that! 

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