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Best things to buy in April

Cruises, tablets, jewelry for Mother's Day, and home improvement items are attractively priced right now.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 2, 2012 3:30PM

This guest post comes from Lindsay Sakraida at Dealnews.


Dealnews on MSN MoneyApril 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 deals.


Image: Cruise ship (© Keith Wood/Corbis)In an effort to guide you toward 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. From early home improvement sales to aggressive tablet prices, here's what's in store this month for the smart shopper.


Sail the seas with excellent cruise deals. Typically, April is a good month to book cruises. But we discovered last month that cruise prices in general have been dropping when compared with last year, likely due to the industry's tumultuous string of recent public disasters. In fact, when compared with similar cruise deals from this time last year, 2012's offers are as much as 11% less. And we have continued to see an increase in the sheer number of cruise deals as well, making it a good time (pricewise) to look into a vacation on the seas.
Keep an eye on spring clothing sales. The general rule of thumb is to wait about two months after a new line of apparel hits stores before you can cash in on sizable discounts. Many retailers began debuting their spring merchandise in late January and February, so that places April at about the two-month mark for some. Look closely at the discounts though: A spring clothing sale that takes 30% to 40% off is still a midseason promotion. You'll want a sale that takes at least 50% off or more, and if you can hold steady for a stacking coupon code, all the better. If you truly want the lowest prices -- which of course come with reduced selection -- you'll likely want to wait until May.


Look to non-Apple tablets for aggressive deals. As most of the world expected, Apple announced its new iPad last month. What many didn't expect, however, was for Apple to then continue to manufacture and sell the iPad 2 at a lower price. This new price point from Apple -- although just $100 lower -- puts pressure on Apple competitors, especially since we've already seen deals that discount it to as low as $349. As we predicted, non-Apple slate manufacturers will feel compelled to respond aggressively, and as such we've already seen a new all-time low on the Amazon Kindle Fire. Could this be a sign of things to come from other tablets as well? (Post continues below.)

Get a jump on jewelry deals for Mother's Day. 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 oftentimes we see slightly higher final prices on styles right before the holiday. This is especially true of online jewelry retailers.


Spring home improvement sales go national. For the past three years, Home Depot has offered its "Black Friday is Back" spring sale, but this year, because of the mild winter weather, the store has not only started it early but -- according to CNBC -- the promotion has been rolled out nationwide, instead of on a staggered region-by-region schedule.


Their spring sale began on March 29, whereas last year we listed it almost a week and a half later. While we wouldn't go so far as to say that the promotion is on par with the shopping holiday that shares its name, the Black Friday sale is a good opportunity to stock up on home improvement items you'll inevitably need. And for once, the sales are available to everyone at the same time, ahead of schedule.


Hold off on office furniture. Some sources praise April as the best month for top office furniture deals but, according to our archives, we've consistently seen either more or better-quality deals in both May and June. The latter, in particular, racks up more Editors' Choice-caliber offers, meaning that the styles are at the lowest price point we've seen. Look to OfficeMax, Office Depot, Staples, and Wal-Mart for these offers down the line.


Wait for it to really heat up before buying a grill. It's easy to start dreaming about backyard barbecues once the weather gets warmer, and although the promise of an upcoming season of grilling is enticing, don't jump the gun by purchasing a new grill just yet. Our deal archives suggest that June will see better-quality deals, while other sources promote post-Independence Day sales as an excellent opportunity to get discounts on grills and the like.

Big-screen HDTVs hold steady, while 3-D trends cheaper. Although April isn't a big month for TV deals, we don't expect it to be a bad month either. Deals on brand-name 55-inch TVs haven't changed since the holidays, coming in at exactly $800. Off-brand models on the other hand have actually dropped in price since December, and so far this year they're averaging $590 (which is 14% lower than the best price we saw in 2011). We expect this trend to continue in April, so if you're shopping for a 55-inch TV, look for deals under $590 (for off-brand sets) and under $800 (for brand-name models). Likewise, name-brand 46-inch LCD HDTVs were cheaper in February and March of 2012 than they were on Black Friday last year, with prices averaging $550. (The best deal in November was $598.)


As far as 3-D TVs are concerned, February's all-time low of $699 didn't repeat itself in March. But we do expect it to make a return before the summer, so keep a lookout for deals on off-brand 55-inch 3-D TVs.


With laptop deals, aim for big systems and skinny form factors. Although February's stellar deal on a fully equipped desktop replacement didn't make a reappearance in March, average prices in 2012 are still at Black Friday levels. So if you're in need of a laptop, look for deals on fully loaded desktop replacements (17-inch or larger, with a minimum of 8GB RAM, a Core i7 CPU, and a 500GB hard drive) at or below $800.


Last month we noticed an influx of deals on ultrabooks and we expect the same for April. In particular, look for deals on the ASUS Zenbook or the Acer Aspire S3, as those are the most discounted ultrabooks we've seen. Pricewise, the former has hit an all-time low of $849 whereas the S3 has reached a low of $749.


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