Knowing sale seasons can save consumers money

Denise Wright


Credit: DKS Editors

Long after the shopping frenzy that is Black Friday and the mad rush on post-Christmas sales, consumers are still looking for the latest steals. Sale seasons, time periods in which certain items are usually on sale, can help shoppers find the best deals on their favorite items.

While some sale seasons are obvious – winter clothing is cheaper in the spring while Christmas decorations sell for close-out prices starting Dec. 26 – some stores vary with their clearance items.

“Sometimes it seems there’s no rhyme or reason, but I’m sure there is,” said Ashley Carter of the store’s sale schedule. “There’s a plan behind everything.”

Carter, executive of hard lines at Target in Stow, said it is sometimes difficult to rely on “set-in-stone” sale seasons because they vary from store to store, especially because of climate differences.

But some recurring themes within the industry still remain.

The increasing pressure for manufacturers to continuously produce innovative products and the strain on retail stores to get older products off the shelves has made it more difficult for today’s consumers to know when to buy particular products.

While this task is more complex, it is not completely out of the question.

In July 2007, Consumer Reports researchers released a compiled calendar of the best times of year to shop for common purchases. According to its Web site, researchers used industry surveys and publications, along with retail experts to create the calendar, which is simply divided by month.

For those looking to sweep up some final deals this month, CDs, TVs and winter clothing are always on sale after the holidays.

Looking to buy a home or home décor? The best sales usually take place in January and February.

Want a new MP3 player, digital camera or DVD player? The best months to get small electronics are February, May, June, September and December.

Those shopping for newer cars should do so in November and December when dealers are trying to make room for next year’s models.

Looking to get a good deal no matter what time of year? Airlines usually run the best ticket deals on Wednesday mornings in an attempt to fill the flights for the following week.

While some sale seasons such as this one are pretty explanatory, others may not be so clear-cut.

Carter recommends customers pay attention to weekly ads and check stores regularly for the randomly scheduled sales.

“We’re always trying to get old products out so we can get new products in,” Carter said. “It allows for constant change in the store.”

Customers benefit by getting better prices, too. At the same time, Consumer Reports warns that “the best time to save money isn’t always the best for selection” because sales are often used to make room for products with newer futures.

“Your best bet is to be an informed consumer,” Carter said. “That’s how you get the best deals.”

Contact features reporter Denise Wright at [email protected].