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Shoppers in the know shop now

If you thought the shopping season was over, think again. For Discount Divas and Discount Dudes, the most exciting bargain-hunt of the year has just begun. With lots of folks all shopped out – or financially tapped out – stores are entering their leanest months. To boot, clearance sales will be everywhere.

Now, my friends, is the time to pounce. Here’s what to grab.

Gift wrap. Load up now for next year. I haven’t bought wrapping paper at full retail price since, well, never. And if I had to, a little part of me would die inside. The longer you wait, the lower prices will go, but this is a popular post-Christmas purchase, so inventories won’t last too crazy long.

Invisible tape. Discounts on tape won’t be too deep, but buy it anyway, and buy a lot. Pack it away with your Christmas decorations and you’ll want to kiss yourself next year when, for the first time ever, you don’t run out of tape during a 2 a.m. gift wrapping session. Just think: you won’t have to resort to using packing tape.

Christmas decorations. Discounts on holiday decor go deep, like, up to 90 percent deep. I’ve gotten positively opulent ornaments marked down to $1.50 at Michael’s. And there is plenty of not-obviously-Christmas decor. I’ve gotten silver candlesticks, jeweled candles, white ceramic bowls – all kinds of cool stuff – for a song.

Toys. Not that you probably need any more toys right now, but you will not find better prices any time of year.

Drug stores need to clear out all those shelves. The same goes for pop-up toy stores with temporary locations in malls. They have to get rid of all that stuff before their leases end. Build yourself a stash for the 8,000 birthday parties of 2015, and for next year’s toy drives.

Candy. You can buy the M&Ms in the regular packaging at the checkout counter for 99 cents or you can buy the same M&Ms in the red and green packaging for 12 cents. No brainer.

All-purpose stocking stuffers. My favorite little treasure hunts happen at the Walgreens end caps in the very back of the cosmetics department. Items originally advertised as stocking stuffers – earbuds, socks, scarves – end up back there for pennies.

Clothing. Winter clothes and coats go on sale at the end of December. Discounts get deeper and deeper as January and February progress. Selection is not great towards the end of the season but you can find shirts for $3, so what more do you want?

Bath and beauty items. I wait all year for the post-Christmas deals at Bath and Body Works. Some stuff has holiday or winter-themed labels, which I buy for myself. Stuff with regular labels ends up in my linen closet for impromptu gift-giving throughout the year. Don’t forget the big makeup gift sets and men’s body wash sets at drug and department stores.

Got Consumer tips or questions? E-mail or Tweet me @DiscountDivaSam.