The best and worst things to buy in April
Get a start on your Mother's Day gifts, but wait on vacuum cleaners and mattresses. Your complete guide to April shopping.
April is here, and if you're stuck indoors waiting out showers that will bring May flowers, consider it a blessing: You'll have an excuse to devote more time to shopping around for the best deals online!
In an effort to guide you towards savvy purchases, we dug through the dealnews archives from years past to see what goods are, well, good to buy in April, and what you should hold off on purchasing. From early spring apparel sales to aggressive iPad prices, here's what's in store this month for the smart shopper.
Kindle Fire HD at All-Time Low Price Points
Many industry analysts assume that Amazon's Kindle Fire HD tablets are priced near the manufacturing cost, which would mean that Amazon doesn't make much money, if any, from the sales. Likely as a result, we typically haven't seen large or frequent discounts on these tablets. However, last month Amazon announced that it would cut prices on its entire fleet of 8.9" Fire HD Special Offers tablets. Prices now start at $269 for the base 16GB Wifi version, and although we've seen that particular model for less before, in general, each model is now at or near the lowest price we've seen — making it a good time to give the Fire HD a try.
Skip the Canon T5i and Opt for a T4i Deal
Canon recently announced the newest model in its EOS Rebel line, the T5i, but it appears to offer minimal updates to the previous-generation T4i. The major difference between the two comes down to price: Since the T4i is no longer the latest model, it will see discounts that make it at least $340 less than the T5i. In fact, last month we saw the body and kit lens bundle fall to its best-ever price of $560, and we expect to see that price (or a better one) again in the coming weeks.
Mid-Season Clothing Sales Coming to a Retailer Near You
The general rule to dressing yourself in deals is to wait about two months after a new season of apparel hits stores before cashing in on sizable discounts. Many retailers began debuting their spring merchandise in February, placing April at about the 2-month mark. Look closely at the discounts though: a spring clothing sale that takes 30% to 40% off is likely a mid-season promotion; for discounts of 50% off or more, wait until May.
I Spy iPad Deals
Supposedly Apple will be updating the iPad this month, which means that the fourth generation iDevice that was released in October 2012 will start to see significant price cuts from resellers like MacMall, Fry's Electronics, and Best Buy. Moreover, Apple-refurbished iPad 4s will also drop in price, at which point you'd do well to keep an eye on both the Apple Store and its mysterious eBay site; we've noticed that the eBay store will occasionally offer prices lower than what Apple charges directly, while still being reconditioned by the manufacturer with a full 1-year warranty. However, as far as getting a deal on the brand new model, our data suggests that we won't see a deal on the latest iPad until at least one month after it's released, at which point you could save as much as $59.
Jump Start Your Mother's Day Shopping
If you're thinking about buying some baubles for Mother's Day, then start looking now. We still find and list deals, coupons, and sales for jewelry in May, but often times we see slightly higher final prices on styles right before the holiday. This is especially true of online jewelry retailers.
Get Your Fill of Tax Day Freebies
There are few people in this world who don't appreciate getting something for free, and luckily, one of the most popular days for restaurants to offer something gratis takes place in April: Tax Day. Fast food and nationwide chains in particular will offer some sort of freebie on April 16, and if the offers are anything like last year, then you should be on the lookout for opportunities to get a free cup of coffee, free breakfast foods, or free side orders or desserts with the purchase of an entrée. We also found Office Depot's promotion last year, in which the store amusingly offered to shred 5 lbs. of documents for free, an enticing option.
Wait Until Black Friday to Upgrade Your Vacuum
Many sources suggest buying a new vacuum cleaner in the spring, and as ideal and motivating as that may sound, according to our archives, there are almost twice as many deals on these handy home appliances in October and November. Moreover, the quality of the deals will be better in the fall as well, as we typically see a higher number of Editors' Choice discounts in particular. So make do with your cleaner for now and upgrade in a few months time instead.
Put Off a Mattress Purchase Until Memorial Day
May is generally a good time to find a deal on a new mattress, and indeed for the past two years the sales we saw on mattresses received deeper discounts in May over April. Therefore, it's important to keep in mind that any discounts you see this month could very likely get even steeper if you wait until May, specifically around Memorial Day weekend when department stores roll out holiday-related promotions. Not quite ready for a new mattress? Last year we saw excellent discounts on mattresses around Black Friday and Cyber Monday as well, so you'll have another opportunity to cash in on strong deals later in the year.
Deals on Big-Screen HDTVs Near or Below Black Friday Prices
55" 3D LCD HDTVs, for instance, hit all-time lows last month, with prices starting at $747 — that's $3 under February's best price. Likewise, 55" (non-3D) name-brand LCD HDTVs hit their second-lowest price of the past 12 months and deals started at $688. That's a $51 difference from our all-time low during Black Friday! Lastly, 60" LCD HDTVs bottomed out at $698 in March, which is just $10 shy of the size category's best price set back in Black Friday.
Core i5 Ivy Bridge Laptop Prices Hit Rock Bottom
Sales of new Windows 8 laptops are bad. So bad that Microsoft is offering OEMs discounts of up to 20% on licenses for Windows 8 (and Office). While those discounts are generally for ultraportables, our deal archives show they're also affecting prices of mainstream 15" Ivy Bridge laptops. For instance, just last month we saw a 15.6" Acer Aspire with 6GB of RAM and a 750GB hard drive go for an unprecedented $299. That's the lowest price we've seen for any Ivy Bridge system. It's also $41 under our February mention, which at the time was also an all-time low. While we doubt we'll see such significant price drops in April, we predict this $299 price will become the new norm as it makes its way to touchscreen Windows 8 laptops.
Lindsay Sakraida and Louis Ramirez are contributors to Dealnews.com, where this article first appeared.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.