February may be a short month, but it's packed with holidays where stores do their best to get you in the door. But beware: Not every sale is worth pulling out your pocketbook. Here's what you can expect to go on sale this month, plus the "deals" that might not be as great as they seem.
What to Buy in February
Jewelry. While you won't see many jewelry sales around the winter holidays (hi, engagement season), prices go down just in time for Valentine's Day. You don't have to have your heart set on something heart-shaped either. Shopping expert Trae Bodge says to expect discounts across all types of fine jewelry in the weeks leading up to V-Day, thanks to a bevy of stiff competition among jewelers. By February 15, Valentine's Day-specific pieces will see serious slashes, while all others will go back to full-price until the next sales holiday for jewelry: Mother's Day.
Designer Sunglasses. You might be sitting under three layers of clothes right now, but retailers want you to start thinking about — and spending on — upcoming vacations. So expect summer accessories like hats, scarves and especially sunglasses to get a few markdowns this month. "We see this year after year," Bodge says, "perhaps in preparation for spring break when people want to buy sunglasses before they travel to a warmer destination." Designer glasses from Ray Ban, Gucci and Oakley were all discounted in February last year, according to sales alerts from SlickDeals. But hey, your eyes need UV protection year-round, right?
Televisions. Didn't get the 4K dazzler you wanted for Christmas? If you're due for an upgrade, TVs will be on sale early in the month right before the Super Bowl on February 4. Once the big game is over, expect to wait until the next Black Friday or Cyber Monday to see great deals.
Smartphones. Even if you're not coupled up, you could grab a buddy to get in on 2-for-1 phone deals timed around Valentine's Day. Just as with TVs, February sees some of the biggest deals on phones (outside of Black Friday or Cyber Monday). According to SlickDeals, discounts on smartphones are about 40% larger in February than they are the rest of the year, with the exception of November and December, Bodge says.
Chocolates, Candy and All Things Heart-Shaped. You know the drill: In the day or two leading up to Valentine's Day, expect major markdowns on holiday-specific gifts and treats. By February 15, "Retailers will be anxious to offload that merchandise," Bodge says. Translation: More pink for less green.
What to Skip in February
Flowers. Despite the other Valentine's Day categories that go on sale in February, the major exception is flowers. "We tend to see vendors mark up the prices of flowers this time of year, and then have discounts off of marked-up prices," Bodge says. "So it may seem like you're getting a good deal when you're really not." If a classic bouquet is your usual go-to, expect to pay up — and if you order online, definitely plan several weeks in advance to avoid premium delivery charges. Otherwise, need we remind you that chocolate is always a good answer?
Small electronics. Avoid items like laptops, desktops, tablets and video game consoles, which just aren't priced well after major holiday discounts. The next-best time to jump on these purchases will roll around by July, August and September, during back-to-school season.