Who is ready for the after Christmas clearance guide? Christmas is here and that means that the Christmas clearances are just around the corner. We have tips to help you get even lower prices and the best possible deals.
But, you need to be prepared for this day, just like you prepare for Christmas because it is easy to get into debt and break the budget on the second busiest shopping day and shopping weeks following Christmas.
Retailers know that right after Christmas is a very busy shopping season, and so they appeal to this by encouraging shoppers to buy more than they can afford by offering “super stellar deals” so that they can increase their bottom line.
But, we want you to be prepared and wise for this shopping season. We want you to outsmart the system and know what to buy and what to wait for!
The biggest caution we can state is that no matter how good of a deal something is, if you don’t have the money for it, it is not a good deal for you at all. Keep this in mind. What that may mean is that you may have to miss out on the good deals this season, but you can be prepared for next season by beginning your 1% Christmas savings account – the account you start the first paycheck after Christmas to save 1% of your gross income for Christmas. This also means that you have Christmas money to spend all year round for these great deals that pop up!
Now that we have given some caution, it is time to share the after Christmas clearance store markdown schedules, best things to buy and tips to maximize shopping experience.
We will also provide you with a printable shopping list so you can take it with you while you are shopping!
General Rules for After Christmas Clearance
- Grab the deals. It is that time of year, the day after Christmas – when the end-of-the-year and after Christmas clearance start! This is a great time of year to maximize your budget to grab some great deals!
- Find the actual deals: not everything is a great deal. Don’t be fooled by marketing and excitement induced deals and not real deals.
- Note the return policy: You might find the same items at another store even cheaper during this time, or you may get the item home and realize that you do not want/need that item. So to avoid buyer’s remorse, then know the return policy as they are varied for different retailers when it comes to their end of the year/after Christmas markdowns.
- KEEP all receipts somewhere together (tape them to the box where you store it) to easily locate them in case you do decide to return the items. In most cases, you will be able to return your markdown items, but if you do not have a receipt, they will only honor the lowest marked price that this item has been. If you do not have the receipt this is a big hit to your budget when you return something. Also, without a receipt, not only will you get the lowest price it has been, but you will most likely only receive store credit, which may also put a damper on your budget and shopping.
- Note exchange policy: If you buy clearance clothing or shoes, and you try it on later, to find that it is wrong, most stores will allow you to do a straight across exchange for a different size. However, some will be a final sale. Just be sure of the exchange policy and the final sale warning.
After Christmas Clearance Markdown Schedule
The first thing to note is that this is a general markdown schedule. Each store will be a little different, but as a general rule for stores across the board, here’s the schedule of markdowns that will occur nationwide from national to local stores.
- December 26th – December 31st: Most national (and some local) stores will offer a 50% off Christmas clearance. This will be mostly on seasonal items, but sometimes everyday/gift ideas as well!
- January 1st – January 7th: Most national stores will start markdowns at 75% off.
- Starting January 8th and until gone: Most national stores will start markdowns at 90% off.
Now obviously – the earlier in the markdowns that you shop, the better selection you will get!
In the past, we found that the second week after Christmas where items are 75% off is a perfect time for us as it is a nice discount and the selection is still decent! But now that we use the Paribus app, if the prices drop further, we can see those savings come back to us in many cases (not all as some stores don’t offer guarantees on clearances, but many do!), then we can get the best prices and best selection.
We also wanted to note that most local and small businesses and stores in your area will start with a smaller markdown and slowly move up each week. We often see them start at 25% off and move by 5% or 10% increments from there.
What are the best things to buy during the after Christmas Clearance?
- Christmas decorations, stockings, tree skirts and lights
- Fake Christmas tree
- Wrapping paper, ribbon and bows to refill your stock.
- Red, green and seasonal colored storage bins
- Some toys – there will be a decent selection of toys that will go on clearance. A perfect time for stocking up for future gifts for kids’ birthday parties.
- PJs – for some reasons, lots of pjs go on clearance, whether Christmas themed or not!
- Any other cold-weather gear and accessories – and there is still plenty of winter left to use it!
- Any name brand food items that have holiday packaging. This is especially the case for:
- Christmas Candy
- Bakery cookies and desserts
- Bakery specialty breads
- Panettone sweet breads
- General Mills, Kellogg’s and Post cereals
- Yoplait and Dannon yogurt
- Pillsbury products (especially the cookies mixes and premade)
- Kraft Mac and Cheese and other type Kraft products
- Kellogg’s and General Mills fruit snacks
- Egg nog
- Pepperidge Farms cookies and goldfish
- Keebler and Nabisco crackers (especially Club and Ritz as they commonly have holiday themed boxes)
- Campbell’s Soups
- Fruit cakes
- Also, look for foods that don’t have holiday packaging, that can be name brand or generic, and are traditionally used in holiday meals to be on markdown at stores if they have a surplus after the holiday like canned pumpkin, canned cranberry sauces, fried onions.
- There is probably a lot more, but those are the foods and brands that come to mind that commonly make holiday/Christmas themed foods each year that go on clearance after Christmas.
Note: You can combine and use coupons for many of the above items. There will be a few things that the manufacturer’s will not have coupons for after Christmas like the candy, but cereal, yogurt, soups and other everyday foods that just have holiday packaging might have the markdown prices, plus combined with the coupons, will make for some good deals. You can print coupons here and you can get cash back from Ibotta HERE (like a digital coupon).
- Food Gift Sets: This is also a FANTASTIC time to buy the gift sets for the foodies. They can be cheap enough that a Tabasco gift set may be cheaper than buying a couple of tabasco sauces off the shelf. This is just one example, but there are dozens of examples. Just compare prices and watch the deals. These sets will get cheaper as the days and weeks go on, but they also sell out fast too.
- Personal Care Gift Sets: Similar to the foodie gift sets, this might be a cheaper way to get some of your personal care favorites. And if you want to give as a gift in the future, most of it will last until next year. This is also even a good way to buy personal care for yourself as it is the same products sold on the shelf individually, but you can get them for much cheaper when they are in the gift sets. Also, each year, manufacturers release coupons for the gift sets to make for great deals before Christmas. However, they do not expire until 12/31, which means you can use them that week following Christmas during the first initial markdown period
- Calendars and Planners: They will generally start at a 50% discount and continue to get bigger and bigger as the weeks go on into January.
- Cars. Yes, cars. New or used. It is proven that the absolute lowest prices for cars is actually December 31st. It’s not only the end of the month, it’s the end of the quarter and the END OF THE YEAR. So it is the last ditch effort car salesman have to get their stats in. You will not only likely be able to get one of the best prices, but perhaps some additional perks and throw-ins. Obviously, we are NOT telling you to go buy a car…BUT if you have the money and planned to purchase soon, consider this day!
- Fitness accessories and equipment. This isn’t really a Christmas clearance deal, but rather the stores capitalizing on one of the biggest markets right there around the first of the year. This is the highest selling category for this short time period.
What are the best ways to maximize savings during the After Christmas Clearance?
You can pay MUCH less than the clearance prices if you follow these steps!
- Start with discount gift cards: buy your gift cards beforehand for either shopping online or in-store. You can save 1-12% off your purchase with discount gift cards. Read about this HERE and get another $5 off a gift card purchase.
- Use Coupons: don’t forget that you can use name brand food and name brand personal care item coupons for those special holiday packaging designs. You will likely not find candy coupons because they generally expire on 12/24 (smartly for the brand). But we will show you other foods below that you may be able to find.
- Stack store coupons: You can also use store coupons with the sale and clearance items. Kohls and JCPenney money off and percent off coupons. In general, these coupons can be combined with the clearances, and even stacked with other savings and coupons. But there are many stores that will not allow you to use their store coupons on clearances like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s. However, just read the coupon rules.
- Shop Online for percent and dollar amount cash back: one of the best ways to stack savings is using the store’s coupons while shopping for the clearances online. Online clearances generally give you a better selection and more size options as the can have a lot more inventory. But the biggest reason is that you can combine the clearances, store percent or money off coupons with online shopping cash back rebates through Ebates and TopCashBack. Shopping the clearances online from your favorite stores through Ebates or TopCash Back will let you not only get cash back but if you are a new member, you will also get you an additional $10 gift card through Ebates after your first $25 purchase or $10 cash from TopCashBack after your first purchase of $10 or more. Make sure to CLICK HERE to sign up for Ebates (its FREE and easy) and CLICK HERE to sign up for TopCashBack to get money back on your clearance online purchases.
- Here’s how to get money back if the price drops further. This is the BEST time to download and start using the Paribus app. The Paribus app is an awesome app for anytime of the year. It automatically tracks your online purchases and makes a claim automatically for you if the price drops to claim your difference in price. Most stores offer a policy that allows for you to get the price differences of your purchased items if the price drops in 30 days of purchase. Rules are different for each store, but rarely does someone cash in on these price guarantees because it is so much work. But now it is automated. If you shop the clearances online, you will have a very good chance of seeing additional money back, thus maximum savings. If you want to read the details of this app, we wrote this article called “What is the Paribus App?“
One final reminder: please go in with a plan so that you do not overspend. Please do not go into debt to grab the deals as ultimately this is not a deal if you end up doing this. Between the interest you pay, the effect on your credit and the emotional taxing down the road that you will experience is not worth the discount!
We have compiled a summary of all these tips in a simple and fun printable that you can take with you throughout the season. To receive it please request it using the form below.
So know you know everything you need to have a successful and awesome after Christmas clearance shopping experience!
We hope you can find some great deals over the next month.
Have fun out there!