How to save by shopping seasonally

A Blackbelt in Smart Seasonal Shopping

by Alayna Frankenberry

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Saving Money on Seasonal Sales

Your neighbor who bought a snow blower in April isn't crazy. Neither is your friend who buys all her bikinis in September, or your aunt who purchases a metric ton of chocolate every year right after Christmas. This behavior might bewilder the rest of us, but as it turns out, there is a method to the madness. It's all about scheduling your shopping trips so you pay the least and get the most. If you can figure out the best time to buy these popular products and others like them, you'll see mad savings, and that's just what this guide's about.

  1. Food - Stocking up on food is tricky. After all, you can't exactly buy 20 pounds of lunchmeat in June with the intent to eat it in August. The best times to buy will vary from food to food. Bottled water is cheapest in August after the weather begins to cool. Baking supplies like spices, flour and sugar go on sale in November and December. The best time to buy chocolate (aside from every day, obviously) is right after holidays like Halloween, Easter, and Valentine's Day. Big on microwaved dinners? March is national frozen food month, and those foods are likely to be on sale at that time.
  2. Clothes - Thursday is the best day of the week for clothes shopping. It's when retailers gear up for weekend sales and try to get rid of older items to make room for new shipments. If you're shopping for a specific item, do it just as the appropriate season for that garment is ending. For example, look for cheap bathing suits in August and good deals on wool coats in February. When you notice stores like Target and Old Navy switching displays and getting ready for next season's styles, it's time to pounce on marked-down pieces and stock up for next year.
  3. Electronics - After the holiday rush, electronics giants like Best Buy have leftover inventory that they're eager to sell. Since most shoppers will have blown through their electronics budgets earlier in the month, retailers know they have to reduce prices if they want to keep moving TVs, cameras and gaming systems. Don't forget that you can sometimes save on merchandise that has been opened and returned. To boost your savings even more, keep an eye out for new devices or models, because when companies update products they slash prices on previous versions. If you don't mind having a slightly older phone or laptop, you'll be able to save big.
  4. Toys - There's good news! You don't have to risk life and limb battling the Black Friday masses to get the best deals on must-have holiday toys. For the lowest prices, buy as close to Christmas as you can. Prices drop dramatically during the third week of December, so this is one area in life where it really pays to procrastinate. As with electronics, discounts are even bigger after the holiday, so if you have a really, really good hiding place, consider buying next season's toys in January.
  5. Wedding Supplies - Shop between Thanksgiving and Christmas and you could score your dream dress for a fraction of the regular price. When it comes to other event supplies, from table settings to custom wine labels, skip the bridal megastores and shop online at sites like Bottle Your Brand instead. When you put in promo codes from sites like SoNotRetail and iBotDis to use this winter, you'll double your savings. Keep in mind, though, that if you live in a hot Southern climate, your best in-store savings happen during the hottest months. That's because most brides schedule their ceremonies for cooler weather.

Create your own smart shopping schedule to make the most out of your budget - but don't let yourself get carried away. Two winter coats for the price of one is great, but getting 100 winter coats for the price of 50 might be taking things a little too far. Unless of course you're into conspiracies and you suspect that "bath salt attacks" is just government spin for "civilization-ending zombie invasion." In that case, you can never have too many cans of peaches in your underground bunker.

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  • Visit the TDS Library for more seasonal shopping strategies.
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