5 Things to Buy on Presidents Day

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- February is a retail no-man's land where January's post-holiday deals go to die and March's malaise hasn't quite sunk in yet. That said, there are a few Presidents Day deals for consumers here and there.

Car dealers have enough bunting, streamers and wacky waving inflatable arm guys outside their showrooms to convince the more easily distracted customers that Presidents Day is the midwinter equivalent of Black Friday, but that's simply not the case. After the recession took effect in 2008 and made February sales stronger than those seen during that year's holiday season, February has ranked among the worst retail sales months of the year, according to Census Bureau data.

February retail sales cratered at $337 billion in 2009 before inching back to the record $372 billion reached in 2008. Last year, February sales hit a whopping $404.7 billion but still fell shy of March's $406 billion total. After the holidays, the post-holiday sales and Valentine's Day, America seems just fine with putting away its wallet until that end-of-March Easter uptick comes around.

If shoppers know their retail calendar and are willing to brave the elements and give up a day off on President's Day, there are still some savings to be found. With help from the folks at Lifehacker, we came up with five items that are best bought by Presidents Day or only slightly later:

Broadway tickets

OK, so maybe these require some special circumstances that just happen to put you in the New York metropolitan area around this time of year. If you're already there, however, you're running smack into the post-Tony Awards offseason when the languishing shows close and the blockbusters prepare for their national tours.

Thanks to sites such as Playbill (registration required), Theatermania and Broadway Box, tickets to shows including Picnic, Kinky Boots, The Other Place, Motown The Musical, Once, Breakfast At Tiffany's and Who's Afraid of Virginal Woolf are available for 35% to 40% off. No, you likely won't get a break on seeing ScarJo in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, but if you're still looking to see mainstay musicals including The Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia, Jersey Boys or Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, deep discounts are available without hitting the TKTS booth.

The best part? It's not tourist season. There'll still be folks in Times Square and at the M&M store, but with the tree long gone from Rockefeller Center and the hansom cabs having pulled their last Valentine's couples, it's a great time to enjoy the city's relative silence until half the suburbs jam Fifth Avenue and its bars for the St. Patrick's Day parade.


Welcome to boat show season, when it doesn't matter if you're a would-be skipper in the nation's frozen north or a daily navigator of the waters in its southern climates: It's time to make room for the new models.

As the folks at Boatline explain, when new boats come in old boats have to go. That's fairly obvious for showrooms looking to clear out the remnants of last year's stock, but boat owners looking to buy new will have an old boat to turn over as well. That creates a huge fleet for the huge boat market and tends to drive down prices dramatically.

Of course if you're living in a place that still has some snow cover and requires a heavy winter coat just for a trip to the showroom, chances are boat demand isn't all it could be. Boat shows be damned, those slow gray days have an effect on salespeople whether they're trying to move cars or coaxial cable. It's not a lock that you'll get a deep discount, but your chances are far better than if you wait for the clouds to clear and the weather to warm up.


The spring lines are just starting to drift into stores, but much of the country is still bundling up.

Instead of getting mad at retailers and shaking your fist at racks of bright colors and lightweight knits, why not hit the clearance rack and start stocking up on sale items? Retail analysis site ShopItToMe told Time back in October that the price of winter coats only collapses in February as stores struggle to get rid of their seasonal stock.

As Dealnews notes, the relatively mild winter also made this a great year for winter apparel deals. Winter-weary New England residents who just got slugged with more than 2 feet of snow may disagree with the "mild" portion, but they're also the prime example of why it may pay to stock up now.

Mobile phones

The Consumer Electronics Show is just the tech industry's way of telling you that the device you're carrying around each day is now as much of an afterthought as the giant antenna-laden brick of a phone Zack Morris used to carry around on Saved By The Bell.

Though the big tech party in Vegas was more than a month ago, the fruits of those festivities are just making their way to stores and sites. Time writer Mark DiVincenzo issued a standing order to buy mobile phones in February in his book Buy Shoes on Wednesday and Tweet at 4:00.

Usually he's right and carriers such as Verizon ( VZ), AT&T ( T), Sprint ( S) and T-Mobile offer their two-for-one deals around this time of year. Dealnews isn't so sure, however, and suggests savvy shoppers await the results of the Mobile World Congress in Spain this month. Even with a relatively weak phone showing at CES and decelerating sales of the iPhone 5, this is still a time nervous retailers waiting for tech's other shoe to drop will tinker with pricing a bit.


Consumer site Decide.com tried to tell shoppers in November that buying a TV on Black Friday was a sucker's bet.

You're sitting on line overnight and elbowing people in the throat to get a "great" price on a third-party TV brand nobody's heard of. Shoppers will be lucky if those sets see another Christmas, never mind multiple football Sundays.

Meanwhile, new televisions arrive in the spring and stores that were unable to foist their old stock off on Super Bowl party planners are stuck with last year's dust-collecting models. Many of the arguments C-Net made two years ago about buying a TV around this time of year hold true, while Dealnet notes that prices of 55-inch and 60-inch HDTVs are the lowest they've seen in a year. Meanwhile, 3-D HDTVs that were going for more than $1,400 last year are now available for as little as $450.

-- 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.


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.

More from Personal Finance

This Should Be Your Retirement Savings Plan When the Stock Market Crashes

This Should Be Your Retirement Savings Plan When the Stock Market Crashes

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch Has 4 Tips to Getting a Promotion

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch Has 4 Tips to Getting a Promotion

What Is Neymar's Net Worth?

What Is Neymar's Net Worth?

How to Make a Fortune Like Microsoft Billionaire Founder Bill Gates

How to Make a Fortune Like Microsoft Billionaire Founder Bill Gates

Goldman Sachs' Marcus Service Has What Other Fintech Firms Don't

Goldman Sachs' Marcus Service Has What Other Fintech Firms Don't