We’ve finally made it to both the last month of the year and the high point of the annual sales calendar! Savvy shoppers know this month is really a twofer: You’ll find lots of great deals well before Christmas, and then you’ll find a lot of things at a deep discount after the holiday.
But not all is smooth sailing in December. Many shoppers are planning to buy fewer gifts this year due to the lingering effects of inflation on household budgets. Now, that doesn’t necessarily sound like good news. But on the flip side, we could see deeper discounts if retailers fail to hit sales goals because of economic headwinds.
While that remains to be seen, this much is certain: If you’re a procrastinator, your wallet is going to suffer this year more than most. Money expert Clark Howard says prices will continue to climb until the Saturday before Christmas.
That’s why you should make a plan to shop early. Green Monday is December 12; it should be one of the peak shopping days of December. And if you can get your online shopping done by December 14 (aka Free Shipping Day) you can get guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve.
Here Are the Best December Deals
Countdown to Christmas Sales
Possibly the most notable retailers to offer sales like these include Costco and Best Buy. In the past, Costco’s 12 Days of Deals savings event featured items in nearly every category — including travel! If you didn’t see what you were looking for during what has now been dubbed “Black Friday month” (November), you might want to be on the lookout for the Costco sale in addition to “countdown to Christmas” sales happening at other stores. Best Buy is currently offering a 20 Days of Deals sale ending on December 18.
This is a great month for the handyperson in your life to save money (maybe it’s you!). Try shopping for cheap tools at Woot with this deal site’s dedicated tool page, at The Home Depot or at Lowe’s Home Improvement.
And don’t forget about discount tool retailers such as Harbor Freight and Northern Tool. No matter where you choose to shop, be sure to see our guide to the Best Places To Buy Cheap Tools before making your purchase.
December is typically a month when you can save big on tires thanks to Discount Tire’s mid-month flash sale. Last year, the tire retailer offered $50, $80 or $100 off a set of four tires. The warehouse clubs such as Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s Wholesale also tend to have additional savings on tires at the end of the year. Keep your eyes peeled around December 15.
Each December, Costco has a semi-annual sale with some great deals on furniture. Look for deals in stores around December 15. You’ll pay only a 14% markup on furniture, which is ridiculously low compared to regular furniture retailers. (Note that Costco stores don’t offer delivery, so you’re responsible for moving whatever you buy yourself.) Learn more about buying Costco furniture here.
December has at least one food holiday that usually offers the opportunity to get some discounted or free food. This includes National Cookie Day on December 4. In the past, Starbucks, Shake Shack and McDonald’s have offered some free food items with or without purchase through their apps in December, no holiday required.
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After Christmas Stuff
December is an ideal month to stock up for next year’s celebration if you time your purchases right. By the day after Christmas, all the stuff you needed leading up to the holiday goes on deep discount. That includes wrapping paper, holiday greeting cards, holiday decor and candles and more. Just be sure to shop as early as possible after Christmas to get the best pick of inventory.
If you want to place your bets on the best possible deals rather than specific items, know that as stock dwindles, prices will continue to drop.
Holiday Gift Sets
Gift sets will also be on sale this month, and we’re talking everything from lotion and toiletries to pet gift sets. Once we get past Christmas, the prices on these sets will drop precipitously. That means the smartest play is to stock up on these now for events throughout the coming year: Think birthdays, graduations, weddings or baby showers. As for the Christmas-themed sets, just buy them and stash them in the closet for next year.
December is one of two months (the other being June) when Bath & Body Works hosts a semi-annual sale online and in stores. You can score deals up to 75% off. During the last sale, we saw shower gel from $3.37, hand soap from $2.50, and hand cream from $3.12.
Clothing and shoes tend to be marked down for closeout right after Christmas as well. So keep your eyes open at the end of the month for savings.
Storage and Organization
The start of a new year is just around the corner. In addition to packing away all your holiday stuff, you may want to clean and pare down your living space to greet 2023. Thankfully, you’re likely to find storage and organization favorites on sale at a variety of big-box retailers and home improvement stores this month. (As an aside, plastic tote company Sterlite makes its products proudly in the USA.)
If you’re a last-minute gift giver, you’ve probably purchased or considered buying a gift card before. The reality is that gift cards can be something of a double-edged sword. They come with certain dangers such as smaller restaurants or retailers going out of business before you can use the gift card. But they can be a good thing if you get more value than you pay for. And that happens pretty commonly in December.
In years past, Target RedCard members have gotten 10% off the purchase of Target gift cards purchased both in stores and online, typically during the first week of December.
Warehouse clubs are good for discounted gift cards year-round — not just in December. And if you’re running out of time to get gifts but don’t want to buy a gift card, check out our list of the best instant gifts and experiences you can send by email right here. And don’t forget Clark’s favorite gift: cash!
December is a great month for deals, as long as your timing is right. Just remember to spend sensibly and within a predetermined budget so you’re not dealing with a nasty debt hangover in January.
Meanwhile, want to see what’s already on sale today? Check out today’s best deals from ClarkDeals.com.