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Best things to buy in February

It's a great time to buy really big TVs, winter coats and ski vacations, and Presidents Day sales are coming up.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 1, 2012 4:45PM

This guest post comes from Lindsay Sakraida at Dealnews.


The short month of February is here, but don't worry: 2012 is a leap year, which means savvy consumers will have one extra day to cram in more deal shopping. Check out our list of the best and worst things to buy in February, which we've compiled after analyzing the extensive Dealnews archives full of sales, coupons and individual products from years past.


If you're curious about Presidents Day sales, gifts for Valentine's Day, or prices on electronics, outerwear and more, then read on.


Valentine's Day deals are predictably not great. Since this is the time of year when jewelry, flowers and perfume are at their highest demand, it's not surprising that shoppers probably won't get the best price possible. Perfumes, for example, generally see better discounts in late February, after Valentine's Day, and in March. Try buying your sweetheart a less-routine Valentine's Day gift in a category that's more likely to see a fair discount.


Prepare for Presidents Day sales. The best part about a holiday weekend isn't necessarily the day off, but rather the inevitable sales. You can expect quite a few Presidents Day sales during the three-day weekend that will take as much as 80% off on a plethora of apparel, as well as tools, bedding and furniture. Some retailers tend to offer deeper discounts on existing sales, while others will lean toward modest coupons (likely an extra 20% to 30% off) that are applicable sitewide. Look to clothing and department stores for a big Presidents Day sale push. Post continues below.

It's tablet time. Rumors continue to swirl about the release date of the iPad 3, and many folks believe that it will be announced at the end of February. If that is indeed the case, then we'll likely see immediate markdowns on refurbished iPad 2 units sold by Apple, as well as substantial cuts on new iPad 2 devices from resellers.


Expect electronics clearance sales. We mentioned in our January buying guide that, as new electronics unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show begin to hit shelves, retailers make room for them by offering discounts on old stock. This effort continues in February, and includes markdowns on electronics like GPS units and audio equipment -- the latter of which we've already started to see excellent deals on.


Wait on digital cameras. Common logic dictates that we'd similarly see the best deals of the year on digital cameras during February, as retailers clear camera inventory post-CES. However, our deal archives paint a different picture. Although we've seen some excellent bargains during February, those discounts and promotions have paled in comparison with November and December in terms of Editors' Choice-caliber offers. In the past two years, both of those later months have each seen roughly four times as many top deals as February.


An excellent time for outerwear. We mentioned in our January guide that winter apparel was beginning to see its greatest discounts of the season, and those sales will continue through February, though typically the selection is less robust. But that might not be the case if you're looking specifically for a winter coat, as the mild season has reportedly left retailers with massive amounts of unsold inventory, therefore making this perhaps one of the best years to get a deal on a late-in-the-season coat. If you've been putting off replacing your tried-and-true wool or down coat, February and March will be excellent months to snag a deal.


An increase in the number of ski resort deals. Since snow has been hard to come by this winter, the number of travelers booking trips to ski resort towns has been unusually low. Although numerous locations recently received a fresh dusting of powder, the ski season has been damaged due to mild weather. We've already seen an influx of special skiing discounts on vacations and hotels in ski towns like Keystone, Colo., Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah, and more, as they try to salvage a weak tourist season.


Wait until March to catch up on movies. Throughout the year we tend to see daily deal sites discount bulk movie tickets, and cinema chains often offer promotions for ticket sales as well. But strangely enough, those types of movie deals have largely been missing in February for the past two years. In February 2011, we didn't see a single deal for discounted movie vouchers, and the year before, we only saw an offer from AMC to watch a marathon of the Oscar best picture nominees.


The scarcity in February may be a fluke (for two years in a row?) or perhaps theaters actually believe the upcoming Academy Awards is enough of an impetus for consumers. Either way, there's a chance that avid moviegoers may have to pay full price this month.


Go big on HDTVs. Unfortunately, the head-turning deals we saw on 42-inch LCD HDTVs in November and December came to a quicker-than-expected end in January as prices on name-brand and third-tier 42-inch sets jumped back to their pre-September averages. Likewise, 55-inch 3-D LCDs slowly made the transition from $999 back to $1,337. But that doesn't mean TVs should be off your radar just yet.


Big-screen TVs -- those in the 55-inch and 60-inch category -- are still coming in at aggressive price points. Deals on 55-inch name-brand LCDs, for instance, hit $800 in December and $700 in January (the lowest price we've seen for a 55-inch name-brand LCD TV since this summer, when we saw a Toshiba drop to an astonishing $559 for less than an hour). That means we could see better or equal deals on these sets trickle into February, especially as new CES models begin to enter the market.


Name-brand 60-inch sets hit an all-time low of $800 in November, and while we haven't seen that price point since, we have seen LED-backlit sets (also name brand) in recent weeks that hover around the all-time low price of $970, giving us hope of seeing similar deals in February.


Laptops. Fully equipped desktop replacements (those with 17-inch screens, Core i7 CPUs, and 8GB of RAM) are still enjoying all-time lows. During the past three months, we've seen deals on these 17-inch premium systems hit $800 -- a price we've never seen before. Dual-core 15-inch laptops, however, have gone up in price, slowly reaching their pre-holiday average of roughly $330.


Shoppers should also keep an eye on ultrabooks, one of the hottest trends at CES this year. As these super-thin laptops begin to hit the market in greater numbers, they could potentially lower the price on other 12-inch and 13-inch laptops.


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