The Best Time to Buy Things This Year

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Every year I am amazed at how many people ask me when is the best time to buy certain items that they need. Unfortunately, my reaching out to a few friends and acquaintances helps only a little bit. Most people buy things on impulse or just when they absolutely may need something and never have a well-made plan when they do it. No matter how many times I see it, I have to shake my head and ask, “Why didn’t you wait or didn’t you know that it was just on sale last week?”

To get the best deals, it helps to know the best time to buy your purchase. Here's a month-by-month guide to finding the hottest bargains.

The prices of most things that are “on sale” are sometimes questionable. By that I mean: sale prices are determined by the retailer and that’s why items at one store’s prices are sometimes very different from another. Competition has an effect and helps keep prices in line and similar, but not always. There are other factors such as seasonality, store location (like a resort gift shop compared to your local Kohl’s store when you need a bathing suit, LOL), and the amount of inventory a store has on hand at any given key time of the year.

My Lifetime Experience Yields This Word of Caution

So today, now that a New Year has begun, let me give you some experienced advice and a calendar list guide to use for some items you may need in 2020!

A word of warning though: Never assume that because something is 20%, 30% or any big percentage off the regular or original price that it is a real bargain. A percentage off means nothing, in reality. It’s the actual price that you pay that is important. Percentage offs are used to motivate and mislead you, so keep that in mind when I tell you the numbers here and look at the selling price when you shop!

And of course, I am obliged to mention that an item isn’t a bargain if you don’t actually need it. That being said, if you are planning to buy something, you want to find out the best time to buy it and get the best deal. So here is my calendar of shopping deals…

The Best Time to Buy Things This Year

January

With a fresh page on the calendar comes a fresh start for bedding and linens. Department stores hold bedding and linen “white sales” in January (and again in July) with deep discounts on sheets and towels, blankets, pillows, etc.

New Year means new diet and exercise programs so all kinds of fitness equipment is on sale at retailers, because they know you want to get in shape. Fitness equipment and apparel sales abound at sporting goods stores.

Just before the Super Bowl (February 2nd this year), retailers have huge discounts and sales on TVs and other home-theater essentials for the big game.

January is also the time when they are beginning to clear out the “old” inventory of electronics in advance of the new models being shown at the big electronics show in Las Vegas every February!

Finally, after the holidays is a good time to buy other people’s unused gift cards at sites like CardPool.

Dates to note: Martin Luther King Jr. Day is January 20, so look for all kinds of special sales and coupons.

February

It’s the month of Valentines, but February might be a better time to buy a television with the leftover sales from January.

With winter winding down, retailers will be looking to unload inventories of cold-weather products. Look for sales on apparel and winter sports gear.

Another way to celebrate love, you can choose to hold your wedding in this off-month and save on costs. For more tips on saving money on your wedding, check out this post.

Dates to note: The Super Bowl is February 2, Valentine’s Day is February 14, and Presidents Day is February 17, time for special promotions on many items and especially snack items for the big game.

March

There aren’t any major shopping holidays in March, but you can still find some good bargains.

Retailers like to discount tax-prep items in March ahead of Tax Day in April.

Check out discounts on your new summer grill and grilling necessities in March to avoid the spike in prices when summer arrives and prices go up in May and June.

Just prior to St. Patrick’s Day, online retailers and department stores will discount green-themed clothing, party supplies, and jewelry.

Also, luggage can be a good buy before the spring-and-summer travel season begins.

Dates to note: St. Patrick’s Day is March 17.

April

April has its fair share of spring deals and discounts, including tax-themed items. Year after year, retailers try to lighten the burden of Tax Day with discounts and freebies on services like paper shredding. Keep an eye out for these around mid-April.

Easter means lots of candy and the days after the Easter holiday will be filled with markdowns on candy, plastic eggs, stuffed animals, and more.

Spring cleaning means that thrift stores will have better selections, and you can also find home organization supplies for your own spring cleaning session.

Dates to note: Easter is April 12 and Tax Day is April 15.

May

May means Memorial Day sales, and they can be huge.

By May, retailers will discount spring clothing that has already been hanging on racks for over a month or two.

Looking for furniture? Three of the biggest blowout shopping days are Black Friday, Labor Day, and Memorial Day. So look for furniture and home-decor discounts from big-box stores.

How about small kitchen appliances? Use May discounts as an opportunity to buy small kitchen appliances, such as coffee makers and blenders. You can also find cookware and dishes on sale. These products make great wedding gifts, and can even be a graduation gift.

Dates to note: Mother’s Day is May 10 and Memorial Day is May 25.

June

June has many opportunities to snag deals.

Smart purchases include lingerie. Stock up on undergarments in June. That’s when Victoria’s Secret and Bare Necessities, for example, turn over inventory and hold store-wide sales. The VS sale usually also occurs in December.

Consider buying a gym membership during the summer and be sure to negotiate for the best deal. Gyms may be hungry for sign-ups at this time. And check out this post for more saving tips on your membership.

Tools can be a good buy just in time for Father’s Day.

It’s a perfect time for movie tickets. As we gravitate to outdoor activities during the summer months, many movie theater chains offer film programs, which usually include cheap tickets to children’s movies.

Dates to note: Father’s Day is June 21 and graduation and wedding promotions abound.

July

As the temperature rises in July, the prices of certain items drop. Consider buying these:

Apparel sales means swimwear clearances. You will find the best prices of the season.

Patriotic items? Retailers like a reason to celebrate. In the days leading up to Independence Day, there’s usually an abundance of sales on red, white. and blue everything!

With no traditional gift-giving holidays in July and August, jewelers offer lower prices on jewelry to attract customers.

Black Friday is a big deal day that falls in November, but many retailers have added “Black Friday in July” sales, including Best Buy and Amazon (which features Prime Day). Expect discounts in nearly every personal electronics product category.

Dates to note: Independence Day (aka the Fourth of July) is…July 4.

August

Look for end-of-season clearance sales in August on summer clothing and outdoor furniture.

It’s also time for back-to-school supplies. The start of school marks the need to buy small items such as pencils and expensive ones like laptops. Generally, the closer to the start of the school year you buy, the better your chances of getting a good price. Check out this post for more saving tips.

Ride out the end of summer with a big deals on lawn mowers and other seasonal outdoor equipment.

If you’re ready to spend your life with “the one”, higher inventory of of diamonds makes August the month to get a deal on a classic engagement ring.

Dates to note: The first day of school is usually in August or the first week in September.

September

September is a surprising month for good deals. Pick up reasonable prices on these:

Year after year, September is the time for mattress sales. Expect these from department stores and mattress centers, usually as a part of Labor Day sales (or Memorial Day sales). This includes not only the big, well-known brands, but also the newer players such as Nest, Nectar, and Purple.

Apple has been known to announce its new iPhones at the company’s annual keynote in September. This is followed by a price drop on the current phones as customers anticipate the new models.

Expect a series of blowout deals in the week leading up to Labor Day, including promotions on appliances big and small.

Newer model year cars become available this time of year, meaning that’s the perfect time to score a deal on the current model year vehicles.

Dates to note: Labor Day is September 7.

October

Halloween may be scary, but October prices don’t have to be. Check out deals on these product categories:

People generally spend less time outdoors when the temperature drops. Expect deals on patio furniture, camping supplies, and outdoor living products when summer ends.

Fall inventory arrives in stores in August and September, but you’ll pay top dollar unless you wait a few weeks. October is a great time to buy a new pair of jeans.

October is also the first big price break on outerwear and coats. Don’t ever buy one that’s not “on sale” because they will be soon.

As the month gets closer to Halloween, your chances improve to snag a discounted bag of candy for trick-or-treaters. But right after the holiday, all candy will be reduced as much as 90%, don’t wait!

Dates to note: Columbus Day is October 12, and Halloween is October 31.

November

November is the month for highly-anticipated Black Friday sales.

Electronics like tablets, laptops, and gaming systems take center stage during Black Friday sales. Look for discounts on smartphones and activity trackers, too.

Reserve your major home appliance purchase—refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher, etc.—for Black Friday deals. Often, sales can be found throughout the month.

Home improvement stores discount tools, ladders, and toolboxes during Black Friday promotions.

Dates to note: Thanksgiving is November 26, Black Friday is November 27, and Cyber Monday is November 30.

December

The end of the year can be bargain time for holiday shoppers. Look for sale prices on these categories in December:

Those Black Friday electronics deals from late November will spill over into the new month.

December is actually the best month to buy a car. While the newer models appeared in September, by now dealerships are desperate to move out the current model year and make end-of-the-year quotas.

Toys are a popular Christmas gift, and stores generally host big toy sales as the holiday season draws to a close.

Beginning the day after Christmas, shop sales for deep discounts—often upward of 80%—on Christmas decorations, greeting cards, wrapping paper, ornaments, artificial trees, and similar seasonal trimmings.

Dates to note: Christmas is December 25.

Final Thoughts

Bookmark this post if you have trouble reminding yourself about these sale and clearance opportunities. Being a good shopper requires a little bit of work and a lot of discipline and knowledge. Why? Because we all have impulses to buy when we see something we like, but not a lot of resistance to them nor thought as to whether we actually “need” the item. That means we are attracted by the shiny new things and the big signs that promise us a great deal, whether it’s true or not.

Are you ready for the best time to buy these things this year?

2 Comments

  1. I love this, it’s indeed a different feeling when you’ve just bought something and it’s on sale for 30% off. Especially with big purchases like cars and electronics it’s important to time things well. Great article Gary!

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