When is the best time to buy?
The best time to buy a TV is late February through March. Starting in February, many stores have clearance sales as they make way for new TV models. In January of each year there is a huge Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas. This is a multi-day trade show where brands big and small reveal their latest gadgets and electronics to the world. Since these new TVs begin arriving in stores in March, stores start to mark down their current TV inventory in late February and throughout March to make room for the new items.
How big are the savings?
A lot of the clearance bargains in March are around 50 percent off the retail price. For example, in March 2013, Best Buy sold an LG 47" LED 3D TV for $999, which was almost $1000 off its regular price of $1949. Also in March 2013, Amazon sold a Panasonic 42" LED TV for $549 instead of its regular price of $900—that's almost a 50 percent savings! Basic 42" LED TVs could be found for under $300 in several retail stores. Very rarely do you get the opportunity to save $1000 or 50 percent on a TV. March clearance is definitely the way to go!
What about Black Friday?
Many stores do offer great deals on TVs on Black Friday. However, there is usually limited inventory, and shopping on Black Friday is less than ideal (at least for me). Not only that, but the prices don't beat March clearance prices. For example, on Black Friday 2012, Target offered a 32" Samsung LED TV for $247.99. In March 2013, a 32" Samsung LED TV was selling for $197 at multiple stores (including my local grocery store), which is over 20 percent off. At worst, the March sales are as good as the best Black Friday sales. For example, the sale price for a Panasonic 55" 3D LED TV on both Black Friday and March clearance was $898 at Best Buy (a savings of $1050 from its regular price).
Aren't they old TVs?
Some people will argue that the reason that March deals are so great is because they are technically last year's models. And that is true. But TV technology is relatively the same from year to year. Yes, the incoming models might have more bells and whistles, but the sound and picture quality will be similar enough that it won't make a big difference. With most TVs, the improvements certainly aren't dramatic enough to pass up a 50-percent-off deal!
But March is so far away…
Of course, these deals only work if you can wait until March. Experts agree that outside of clearance inventory or a great Black Friday deal, the rest of the year the sales prices are about the same. So, if you are in need of a TV and cannot wait until March, now is as good a time as any!