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December is one of the best times to find virtually anything you want on sale. This year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend landed right at the tail end of November, so Cyber Week (the week that follows Cyber Monday) is taking place the first week of December.
This means you’ll see sale prices that match or come close to the savings available over the previous weekend on a wide variety of products. And many of those sales will continue throughout the month, as retailers usually run special promotions all the way up to the end of the year.
Consumer Reports tracks the prices of everything we test all year long to determine when prices are most likely to drop most steeply. And there are 33 different products that tend to reach their deepest discounts this month, including popular gift items like TVs, cameras, and headphones as well as useful items like vacuums, printers, and more.
However, because of the pandemic, everything has been a bit different this year and may change in December as well. Retailers started their Black Friday sales at the beginning of November to try to offset the increased demand on shipping, so sales may ebb earlier in the month than usual.
To see more of what gets deeply discounted the rest of the year, check out our calendar of deals.
Computers and Laptops
Year after year, laptops and computers are very popular gifts. This year, especially, with more people working and learning remotely, these items are high on wish lists. However, there might not be quite as many or the discounts might not be as deep.
The pandemic has created increased demand for computers that’s resulting in less availability and fewer sales. There will still be discounts on select models, so get an idea of the type of computer or laptop you want with the help of CR’s buying guide and recommended models. If you can find a few models that may fit the bill, you’ll have better luck spotting a deal on at least one.
Your best bet to find a discount on a good laptop or computer will be to shop early in the month. Thanks to Black Friday and Cyber Monday falling right at the end of November, we expect to see Cyber Week sales continue into early December.
Cameras have become something of a luxury because most people now rely on their phones to take photos. That makes cameras perfect for gift-giving, so retailers often discount them for the holiday shopping season.
Once you’ve settled on your budget (cameras can range from a hundred to thousands of dollars), you’ll need to decide on the type of camera you want. A simple point-and-shoot is great if your phone camera isn’t up to snuff. But you may want something more powerful, such as a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) model, if you’re looking to capture top-notch photos.
Because choosing the right digital camera can be overwhelming, spend some time doing a little homework before you shop. Determine which type will best suit your needs and how much you’re willing to spend, taking into account accessories such as lenses, SD cards, card readers, spare batteries, and more. Our digital camera buying guide and ratings give you the details on different models, as well as information on features and brands.
Air fryers have numbered among the top holiday gifts for the past few years, and you can usually find discounts on top-rated models. But we haven’t seen nearly as many opportunities to save on CR-tested models this year, so it’s especially important to check out your options before you buy.
Among the models CR has tested, there turned out to be no discernible difference in the food the testers made, but some air fryers had easier controls, were easier to clean, or were quieter than others.
The holidays are the best time of year to find a deep discount on a new TV. Usually, you’d expect the biggest sales to happen on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but again, because these shopping holidays fell right at the end of November, Cyber Week is taking place in the first week of December. So you’re likely to see the biggest savings early in the month, with residual deals through the end of the year.
If you’re planning to order a larger TV, buy early if you want it delivered, to reduce the risk of shipping delays—or order from a retailer that offers in-store or curbside pickup to get your new TV even sooner.
It pays to do some research before heading to the store because there are countless options available. There are plenty of highly rated makes and models in our ratings, from brands such as LG, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio.
Our TV buying guide will help you get the most bang for your buck no matter how much you want to spend. Paid members should consult our TV ratings to make sure to get a set that performed well in our lab tests.
Headphones are always a popular gift item, and you can often find great deals on top models in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Typically, the best deals will roll out around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and they usually carry over into the whole of December.
Whether you’re looking for true wireless earbuds or a comfy pair of over-ear headphones that offer noise cancellation, it’s important to research brands and models to ensure that the pair you buy will have the features you’re looking for.
Consumer Reports tests headphones in our labs to measure attributes such as volume, noise cancellation, sound quality, and battery life. Review our recommended models to get more familiar with the best options before you start shopping.
Vacuums, including robotic vacuum cleaners, are among the more popular gift options around the holidays, and you’ll find lots of discounts on top models. This is an ideal time to finally replace your old one with an upgrade or surprise a loved one.
There are so many different kinds of vacuums to choose from that it can be daunting to decide on the best option for your home. To make the choice easier, review our vacuum cleaner buying guide as well as our ratings to select the right brand and model for your budget.
As with laptops and computers, tablet sales are also prominent this month. In fact, some laptops can convert to tablets for added functionality.
When choosing the best tablet for you or your giftee, consider how it will be used. For watching Netflix or editing photos, look for something with a larger, higher-quality screen. For simpler tasks, such as playing games and browsing the web, you don’t need to spend a ton. Other factors to consider are battery life, storage size (and expansion options), size, weight, and processor power.
If you’ve been meaning to get a new printer, you may be able to find a good deal on a top model left over from Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There are plenty of different printers out there—some models can scan and fax, and others just stick to basic printing functions.
You’ll have to choose between two main types of printers: laser and inkjet. Some may be able to make copies or offer wireless printing over WiFi. CR’s buying guide can give you a more in-depth look at the different options and the best models so that you’ll be ready to buy when the printer you want goes on sale.
Wireless and Bluetooth Speakers
Similar to many items on this list, wireless speakers make great gifts and retailers roll out discounts on them this time of year for that exact reason. Decent Bluetooth speakers can range from $20 to $800. Some are waterproof, some have a longer-than-average Bluetooth range or extended battery life, and some may have smart features such as Amazon Alexa compatibility or companion apps. Of course, not all speakers sound the same, so if you fancy yourself an audiophile, be prepared to spend a bit more for quality playback.
If your current smartphone isn’t that current anymore and you’re finally ready to get your hands on something newer, December may be a great time to find a recent model at a discount. While Black Friday is when you’ll find the widest variety of phones on sale, these deals often last into December as retailers and carriers run holiday promotions.
Not sure which phone is right for you? Our smartphone buying guide can help you find the perfect option to suit your lifestyle.
More Products on Deep Discount
In addition to the 10 products listed above, a whole lot of products are on sale in December, thanks largely to holiday sales that carry over from Black Friday deals (and Cyber Monday sales). CR’s data has found that the 23 categories below are also deeply discounted this month. So if you need or want to gift anything below, you should be able to find opportunities to save on top options from our tests.