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Save more on big-ticket items

How to save on TVs and fridges this holiday season.

By Karen Datko Oct 14, 2010 11:41AM

This Deal of the Daycomes fromAnnaMaria Andriotisat partner site SmartMoney.

 

The holiday season may still be one Halloween away, but retailers are already gearing up for one of the hot gifts of the year: refrigerators.

 

According to many analysts, retailers are expected to offer more deals on home appliances and electronics in the run-up to the holidays than they did last year. And if they do, shoppers will be going for the big-ticket items: As of September, one in almost seven consumers planned to buy computers, up from one in 10 a year ago, according to BIGresearch, which tracks retail trends. TVs are on the list for 10.6% of consumers, appliances for 7.3%.

Most retailers have more inventory now than they did last year -- which means that as the end of the year gets closer, they'll grow more eager to unload it. A 30% discount is typical early in the holiday shopping season, analysts say, but that could be just the start. The closer the holidays get, the larger the sales could be, and many retailers will throw in freebies on shipping, installation or extended warranties. (Analysts say discounts could hit 60% or more in the days after Christmas, so consumers willing to wait could save double.) Post continues after video.

To get the best deal, figure out what you want before you go to the store and use websites like PriceGrabber and DealTime to compare prices at retailers, including Sears and P.C. Richard & Son. And to time the deals right, start with a game plan.

Here are three tips for saving on a big-ticket purchase this holiday season.

 

Procrastinate. Sure, it will be tempting for thrill-seekers to run to the stores on Black Friday. But those heavily promoted sales won't include the better-quality models that many consumers want. Instead, retailers will start slashing prices on pricier items during the first two weeks of December, says Casey Chroust, an executive vice president at the Retail Industry Leaders Association. Those will include appliances and electronics that are more energy-efficient, quieter or have more features.

 

Research appliance rebates. This holiday season will probably be the last for consumers to get a government-sponsored rebate for energy-efficient appliances. Many of the state programs, which are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, have already depleted their allocation, but 26 states, including New York, Pennsylvania and California, and Washington, D.C., still offer a rebate to consumers who replace their existing appliances, such as refrigerators, clothes washers and dishwashers, with Energy Star models.

 

Amounts vary by state but generally run up to $500, depending on the product and its price. On a Samsung stainless steel refrigerator, for example, a New Yorker could get a 20% discount and a $105 rebate, lowering the cost from $2,570 to $1,951. To qualify, visit your state's rebate website and submit the application and receipt.

Note from Karen: I replaced my very old fridge with a new, Energy Star-qualified model, got a $100 rebate, and noticed a significant drop in my electric bill.

Free shipping. As retailers create more incentives to increase sales, free shipping and installation should be more common this year, says Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis at the Consumer Electronics Association, who notes that these deals could save consumers up to $100 or more.

 

Free shipping deals have already popped up for consumers who buy a big-ticket item online. HomeDepot.com is offering free shipping through the end of the year on most purchases of $249 or more, and in late September, Best Buy announced free site-to-store shipping, where items purchased on its website are shipped for free to the Best Buy closest to the shopper.

 

But don't fall for pitches to join store "shipping clubs," which charge an annual fee to cover postage on all your orders and are unlikely to help you save a lot of money. Also, by joining such a club, you're less likely to comparison shop and find additional savings.

 

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