January Sales Shopping Strategies

NEW YORK -- January is the time of sales sales sales. But what are the best items to buy this month? With all the sales going on, how can you tell the real steals from the not-so-hot clearance items? Where are the best bargains? Should you shop online, in the store or from catalogues?

On "The Early Show" Friday, LaToya Drake, an AOL consumer adviser, walked viewers through some of the best approaches to January's sales in five areas: clothing, linens, furniture, electronics/theater, and fitness equipment.

Her pointers on navigating through the offers:

There are deals in January that won't come around again until the following year. January white sales are an annual tradition that originated in 1878 to boost sales of towels and sheets during what is typically a slow period. These sales begat other sales, and soon a lot of different merchants and brands were using January as a time to sell off the old for great prices, to usher in the new.

APPAREL

Clothes are a great way to take advantage of January Sales. Why? Because stores are clearing out the racks of fall clothes to make way for their new winter stock. And when retailers have to get rid of their stock, you get the savings.

As far as shopping online or at the store, for CLOTHES, it's really a matter of personal preference. Some people won't buy ANYTHING to wear unless they have tried it on. Some HATE to fight through clearance racks looking for the right size or color, and hate crowds. Also, when you shop online, you know right away if what you want is available or not. Either way works. Macy's has a GREAT 99 cent shipping code: Simply enter 99CENTS in the promotional code of your shopping bag screen to get great savings on shipping. Macy's has a great cashmere sale, Old Navy is offering big savings on a good deal of their stock, and Jos. A. Bank is making way for the new winter suits that have driven their prices way down.

Some Great Deals You Might Try:

Old Navy has up to 70 percent off its stock
Men's Solid V-Neck Sweater:
Sale: $9.97
Regular: $24.50

Macy's has great deals right now. First of all, you can get up to 75 percent off of selected clearance stock. Cashmere Sweaters:
Sale: $44.99 + $0.99 shipping (code: 99CENTS)
Regular: $99

Ralph Lauren Winter Accessories
3-Piece lambs wool hat, glove and scarf set
Sale: $59.99
Regular: $115

JoS. A. Bank has up 65 percent-70 percent off on pants, suits, jackets, you name it.

LINENS

This is the time when you buy high-quality items, including bedding with higher thread counts and towels that you hope will last you several years. While places like Pottery Barn and Kohl's have dedicated white sales, you can also score deals at Amazon (like a 1,000 Thread Count Percale Egyptian Cotton Sheet Set for $59.99; reg $189.99)

Some Great Deals You Might Try:

Kohl's offering 30-50 percent off bedding and 40 percent off bath collections

Pottery Barn offering up to 50 percent off over 500 items, both in stores and online during its winter sale.
Bedding (25 percent off plus free monogramming on select items)
Bath (25 percent off plus free monogramming

FURNITURE

This is another thing it's great to get in January. Furniture merchants stock their stores bi-annually, and one of those times falls in February. That means January is clearance time. How should you shop for furniture? Believe it or not, online is often your best bet. Why? In the case of Overstock.com, you can get delivery practically free, and delivery fees are very expensive these days. But ONLY shop online when you know AHEAD of time what you want. If you want to test drive a sofa or seat for comfort, shopping in the store is probably the best way to go. If you want to head to the store, Pottery Barn and Ikea have great deals for limited times. If you know what you are looking for, try RoomStore.com or overstock.com for even lower prices.

Some Great Deals You Might Try:

Online: Overstock.com has $2.95 shipping (you will save a bunch on shipping here; always worth considering if you know what you are looking for)

Capri Dark Brown Microsuede Sectional Sofa
Today: $871.99
Regular: $1,159

In-Store: Pottery Barn has up to 50 percent off

In-Store: Ikea has up to 60 percent off selected items

In-Store/Online: RoomStore
Sofa/Chaise
Sale: $695
Regular: $799.99

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