As the season changes and the school year gets into full swing, retail habits change, too. That ceiling fan you needed in July isn’t that necessary in October, and prices go down when demand is low. That’s why planning your purchases with the consumer calendar can save you big.
We’ve written about what to buy in the summer months and how you can save on paint, gym memberships and jewelry in June and July. But with cooler weather and holidays approaching, there’s a new crop of goods you can save on.
We looked at Consumer Reports’ “When to Buy What” calendar to see what we should get this fall. Consumer Reports points out that the best time to save isn’t necessarily when you’ll find the best selection — so if you’re particular about brands, you’ll want to buy before these sales. But if you’re in the market for saving on big-ticket items — such as cars or ponies — it might be wise to shop now.
In the summer, we wrote about how to pick out an air conditioner, particularly when you’re looking for window units. But the best time to buy one isn’t in the hottest months. Consumer Reports recommends buying air conditioners in September and October, when stores still have summer inventory but reduce prices on unneeded appliances. If you think you’ll need to replace yours in June, buy it now and install it later.
Grills and lawn mowers
Stores stock up on grills and lawn mowers in the summer and immediately discount them when the temperature starts to drop. October is the best month to get outdoor appliances on sale — and you’ll still have some Indian summer days to use them.
Yes, you probably had to buy school supplies in August, and by now, you’re sick of looking at colored pencils and Five Star notebooks. But late September and early October are prime weeks for buying school supplies, particularly ones that didn’t sell in August. Many stores start a second round of school supply sales, moving the remainder of inventory out before holiday fever takes over. Check campus bookstores, drugstores and office supply stores for discounts on things you’ll need next semester.
New bicycle models are released this time of year, which means you can get great deals on old models when stores are clearing out their inventory. Bicycling.com also says bikes receive major changes in design and technology every few years in the fall, so avoid bikes that are more than a few years old. Look for a good deal on last year’s model.
Just like with bikes, fall is a great time to buy a car. Because most car companies release their new models at the end of summer, many dealerships will have sales for the next few months to make way for the 2013 inventory. Whether shopping used or new, FreeShipping.org’s Best Time to Buy Guide also recommends shopping at the end of the month, because many dealerships have monthly quotas for salespeople to meet.
Small kitchen appliances
During summer and wedding season, home appliances such as blenders and juicers are in demand. What else do you get new graduates or newlyweds? Stores stock up on these gift items in May, and they have sales during the pre-holiday months of October and November. If you’re cooking a Thanksgiving feast this year, best to get your wares now.
With competition online, retailers are stretching out the holiday shopping calendar, with sales starting as early as August. According to Consumer Reports, October and November are great times to pick up toys, particularly generic puzzles and games that aren’t the newest or most exclusive items of the season. Retailers have begun pushing out old toys to make room for this year’s LeapFrog tablet, so start clipping coupons now to get discounts before the December rush.
So, your kid wants a pony for Christmas, right? If you’re ever going to make that large purchase, experts suggest buying horses after summer, when current owners dread the expense of boarding horses all winter. Many horses also lose their value after racing season, so if you’re in the market for Black Beauty, October is the time to find a deal. (No, we’re not joking.)
TVs, cameras and camcorders
Consumer Reports notes that a lot of electronic devices are on sale throughout the fall. Sales are controlled not only by consumer demand for new models — November is prime season for electronics due to Black Friday and Cyber Monday — but also because many companies release new models in September and October.
THE BOTTOM LINE There’s a right time to buy everything. The trick is knowing what to buy when. In fall, a range of products including large appliances, outdoor accessories and holiday gift items go on sale. If you’re willing to buy last season’s stock, you can save big.