For obvious reasons, shopping for a new TV has changed this year. But the truth is, TV buying has been slowly evolving for several years now. Everything from when the prices start going down to when and where the sales pop up has almost certainly changed since you bought your last TV.
Today I’m going to reveal what the TV sale and pricing cycle looks like and give you some handy tips on when and how to get the best deal on the best TV for you. First, let’s talk timing.
New TVs have historically started coming out in April, and by June, just about every new TV coming out for the year has hit store shelves. There are some exceptions: TCL and Vizio tend to go for late summer product launches, but most new TVs come out in late spring.
From April through September, TV prices tend to be at their highest. These are brand-new TVs, after all. But come October, we start seeing some price drops, and the prices will keep on dropping through February, with a few hot sales along the way.
Your first move should be to make a shortlist of TVs you are interested in and start tracking their prices earlier in the year if you can — though it’s never too late to have a qualified list of options. I’ve got tips on how to do this further down in this article.
Here’s how the TV discount cycle works these days: October is sort of a price-drop warm-up for November. This is when we’ll see some meaningful and usually permanent price drops. This continues through November which tends to feel like one long precursor to, you guessed it, Black Friday.
But contrary to popular belief, the best prices aren’t restricted to just Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Often, the best TVs will be discounted well ahead of the day after Turkey Day. So if you’re seeing a great price on a TV that you’ve been eyeing for a while, I say go ahead and pull the trigger. It’s unlikely the price will get much better during the holiday shopping season.
Black Friday through Cyber Monday tends to favor door-buster deals and loss leaders. These are TVs that aren’t especially fancy, usually in short supply, and are priced so low you’re almost crazy not to buy one if you can get your hands on one. I call these “Why not?” TVs. Chances are there’s an older TV in your home that needs replacing, or maybe you’ve been thinking of putting a TV in your garage and the sale feels like the perfect moment to make that happen.
Once the holiday shopping season has passed, TV prices tend to start leveling out. They aren’t selling at super deep discounts yet, but they aren’t as expensive as they were when they first came out. Then, faster than you can snap a shotgun hike, the second-biggest TV sale of the season comes around: The Super Bowl.
“There’s one more risk to buying in late winter/early spring: The potential for buyer’s remorse.”
Nothing drives big-screen TV sales like the biggest U.S. sporting event of the year. This is a time when you will see some insanely large-screen TVs on sale for extremely tempting prices. Think of it like Black Friday, but for football. There will be a handful of deals you can’t pass up, along with generally lower pricing on TVs in general. This is a great time to buy.
The third and perhaps best time to save money on a TV actually comes after Super Bowl Sunday. As February nears its end as the shortest month of the year, TV brands inch ever closer to the launch of their new TVs during April through June. That means last year’s TVs need to clear out of warehouses to make space for the new stuff. This is when you can score the best deal of the year if you make your move quickly enough. The only real risk here is that something you have been waiting for could go out of stock quickly.
There’s one more risk to buying in late winter/early spring: The potential for buyer’s remorse. To that, I say: Don’t worry. There’s no reason to get a case of FOMO over the new stuff that’s coming because, year after year, improvements in TVs tend to be incremental. And remember those slight improvements are going to cost a lot more. If you want to wait for the new stuff to come down in price, you can expect to wait a good six months.
Getting a TV at a great price should not be your only consideration. You also want to get a great TV at a great price, and it should be the right TV for you. A TV can be a big investment, so it is worth doing some research to develop that shortlist I mentioned earlier.
Unfortunately, for now, it’s not very practical to go into an electronics store to browse TVs. Even when it is feasible, it’s rarely helpful. Electronics stores and big-box retailers tend to set TVs up in “store mode” which maxes out the brightness and drops color temperature to combat the bright store lights from making them appear washed out. In this mode, the TVs look nothing like they will in your home.
The smart money is to read and/or watch TV reviews online. To be clear, this is not just a shameless plug for my TV reviews. Sure, please do check them out, but also check out the reviews of some of my industry colleagues as well. I think what you’ll find is that we tend to have pretty similar opinions on how TVs stack up and perform, and we tend to look at the best values in TVs as well as the best performing TVs. A lot of us like to do comparisons between the most popular models and Ii would say the best TV reviewers do all this to help you figure out what the best TV for you is, based on a list of common priorities.
So, there you have it. Do your research, buy in the fall and winter months, take your time researching before making bigger purchases, but don’t feel bad about a knee-jerk buy on a cheaper TV during the holidays.
Also, please don’t forget that stores and online outlets have return and exchange policies for a reason. Just because you get a TV home doesn’t mean it has to stay there. It may come with some hassle, but make exchanges until you land on a TV you want to live with for a good long time. With these efforts, you can get the best TV for you at the best possible price.
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