By Anne D'Innocenzio, AP Retail Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — It's not too early to think about strategies for finding the best bargains after Dec. 25.
Stores have plied shoppers with discounts during the holiday shopping season, but bargain hunters can get deeper markdowns immediately after Christmas as retailers make room for new merchandise.
Still, finding post-Christmas bargains at traditional merchants is more challenging now than it was a few years ago. Stores are protecting themselves by stocking fewer products. They don't want another repeat of the holiday 2008 bust, when shoppers stopped buying amid a ballooning financial crisis. That year, stores slashed prices by as much as 70 percent early in the season, and still had heaps of leftovers in January.
"You are going to find isolated bargains" now, said Jodi Furman, writer of the Live FabuLess blog, which offers tips on spending wisely. Shoppers have to check out different types of stores and surf the Web for deals, she added.
Here are four tips on how to make the most of your post-Christmas spending spree.
SURVEY THE SCENE
Scope out retailers' shelves before Christmas to see what they have in surplus and to figure out what you want to target.
For example: Looking for a fur coat? You're in luck this year. A mild winter has depressed shoppers' appetite for cold weather items. That means stores are already cutting prices on coats and heavy sweaters. Macy's Herald Square has some men's coats at 75 percent off.
"Cold weather merchandise is in abundant supply, so I think there should be some good values," said Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies at consulting firm Kurt Salmon. "Cold weather items don't age like wine." He added that many retailers will be discounting outerwear by up to 80 percent after Christmas.
It's best for shoppers to get to stores soon after Christmas to get the best selection. By mid-January, stores will have already started to stock up on spring merchandise.