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5 Things to Buy Between Now and Christmas

Stocks in this article: M TGT JWN JCP KSS

Pools

This one's a bit more obvious, but requires a basic understanding of geography.

If you're in a fairly wintry location, your local pool guy is suffering around this time of year. Nobody's calling and the costs of maintaining a business and paying bills don't go away with the warm weather.

That puts such folks in a dealing mood, even if they know they're going to have to rip through a few feet of rock-solid soil to get paid. On the buyer's end, there's a distinct advantage to picking up a remaining fiberglass pool shell in the winter than waiting until the next year, when the price of materials tends to increase as manufacturers roll out new supply.

Besides, getting that pool in early will not only give the landscaping around it some time to recover from the trauma you just put it through, but could turn into a nice little tax write-off for 2013 if you end up paying interest on the financing.

Televisions

Think the pre-Black Friday sales in October are the best time to get a television? How about February, when last year's models make room for the 2014 newcomers from the Consumer Electronics Show?

This year, you're wrong on both fronts. Part of the reason Wal-Mart touted a $98, 38-inch third-party flatscreen TV among its Black Friday offerings is because nobody's buying.

According to market research firm NPD Group's technology arm, DisplaySearch, LCD panel shipments are down 12% year over year. While they're predicting relatively flat flatscreen TV performance -- with a modest gain of 2% looking likely -- they've also noted that the main motivation for purchases is picking up an even bigger TV than consumers already own.

That's not motivating buyers, as popular LCD TVs saw a 5.7% year-over-year decline to 14.1 million units last quarter after a similar drop three months before, according to market research firm IHS. Meanwhile, manufacturers saw sales of LCD panels themselves drop 58.8 million units during the second quarter to 58 million in the third -- the first time that number has fallen in the history of the product.

Even if you didn't get that $98 set, retailers and manufacturers are still in the mood to deal -- at least until some of their unwanted surplus goes away.

Tools

We gave you similar advice on Black Friday, but guess what? Those tools are still on sale and those pushy, sale-starved mouthbreathers who wasted their Thanksgiving night trying to get a deal on a reciprocating saw they'll never use are out of your way.

Wal-Mart (WMT), Sears (SHLD), Home Depot (HD) and Lowe's (LOW) all included tools in their Black Friday circulars, but haven't been in much of a hurry to jack up their prices. Those $15 starter hex wrench kits and $500 discounts on candy-painted washer-dryer combos are still available, while saws, drills, sanders, planers and cabinet sets go for half price. You just don't have to work your way around a daylong hassle.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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