Between back-to-school shopping and Black Friday, retailers slash price tags on scores of items, from big-ticket buys to everyday extras. The secret to getting a great deal? Timing your purchases so you can take advantage of bottom-dollar prices. Read on for a guide to the best bargains you’ll find in stores between now and Thanksgiving.
Air conditioners: As the weather-driven demand for A/C units slows, prices on last year’s models start to decrease. If you’re not in the market for a new unit, you can still save some cash by having your existing system serviced during the off-season.
Appliances: With new models arriving through the end of October, retailers need to move older inventory. Not in a rush to replace a dryer or dishwasher? Hold out until after the holidays and pick up a past-year model in January for the steepest discount.
Cars: Now is the best time to shop for a new ride for a few reasons: Fall coincides with the end of the model year for vehicles, which means dealerships are motivated to negotiate so they can make room for new models. A holiday weekend such as Columbus Day may result in rebates and other deal-sweeteners, and if you wait until the end of the month, you might luck out and find a salesperson who needs to make a sale to meet quota — which can give you the upper hand when it comes to haggling.
Seasonal produce: At the end of the growing season, supermarkets start looking for produce sources in warmer climates. Shop now for good prices on locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables — look for pumpkins, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and pears.
Toys: Children’s toys and games are another category where retailers need to make space for new inventory before the holidays roll around. As stores try to extend the holiday shopping season, you’ll start seeing sales as early as October.
Kitchen accessories: While summer is high season for appliance sales — think wedding and graduation presents — the impending holiday season ramps up demand for mixers, blenders and more, making it a good time to comparison-shop.
Recreational vehicles: Is a cross-country drive on your bucket list? If so, you’ll get the best deal on a new or used RV once the temperature has dropped significantly. If you’re buying a new model, you’ll find better prices during the off season from dealers who need to offload inventory. If you’re buying used, you’ll have a better bargaining position now, since owners probably want to sell an RV instead of having to store it for the winter.
Frozen turkeys: If you’re planning on turkey for at least one of your holiday meals, scoop one up right after Thanksgiving, when prices should take an initial dip. According to the USDA, a frozen turkey will be safe indefinitely if kept frozen. You’ll find even better deals after Christmas, and a discounted bird still makes for delicious turkey sandwiches.
Weddings: A little flexibility with your wedding date can add up to significant savings on your big day. Avoiding the peak season (May through September) means you’ll pay less for venues and have more options. Since cold weather means a relative lull in demand, you can try negotiating lower prices or added perks from vendors. With the money you save, you can spring for some added luxury on the honeymoon (which also will also be cheaper if you plan it for the winter).
THE BOTTOM LINE Hands down, being prepared is the best way to get a deal — so familiarize yourself with sale seasons, holiday-weekend promotions and retailer schedules to maximize savings. Comparison shopping and tracking sales on items you genuinely need will help you keep more of your hard-earned cash.