It seems that for every purchase, even ketchup, there is a discount season.
Most people generally know they can get a deal by timing some purchases to a season — to buy when demand is low or supply is high. Clothing is cheaper when it’s “out of season” and certain fruits and vegetables are cheaper when they’re “in season.”
But the strategy is not so obvious with some items, such as ketchup. Condiments, including mustard and relish, are cheapest when the weather warms in May so supermarkets can lure you with visions of picnics and barbeques.
“I know people who buy a year’s worth of ketchup in May,” said Mark Di Vincenzo, author of “Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon: A Guide to the Best Time to Buy This, Do That and Go There.”
Similarly, stores put champagne on sale in December in hopes you’ll come for the bubbly and buy full-priced liquor for the holidays.
And savings extend far beyond a few bucks on ketchup or champagne. “It’s potentially serious money,” Di Vincenzo said.
Here are some other examples:
End of season: Retail inventory is usually ahead of the actual season, so you’ll find good deals on swimsuits in September and winter coats in January and February, when those garments are still useful. Similarly, lawnmowers, gas grills, shrubs and patio furniture can be bargains after Labor Day. Buy sporting goods at the end of that sport’s season.
Sudden drops in demand: Chocolate and roses become far less expensive after Valentine’s Day. Think holiday wrapping paper and boxed Christmas cards in January.
Back-to-school: You can stock up on some good deals during the back-to-school retail blitz in August, but it might pay to buy some things, including jeans, in September and October, after the rush. By then, fashion-conscious students also will know the must-have items.
Discontinued: Retailers will sell inventory cheap when it’s time to make room for the new stuff. Hit the white sales in January for sheets and towels and July for furniture.
Electronics: TVs, computers and cell phones are generally deals when new models come out. Laptop computers, in particular, tend to be cheaper in back-to-school sales, says DealNews.com. Cameras tend to be cheapest in February. TVs sales are often best in December and January.
Grocery shopping: Sunday through Tuesday. Store sales often start on Wednesday but coupons to match some sales don’t come out until the Sunday newspaper circular. Stacking coupons with sales leads to the best deals.
Homes: Buy houses in January — or, more generally, winter — when buyers are few and sellers desperate.
Vehicles: Buy cars in the fall, after new models come out. You can save 10 percent to 20 percent on the previous year’s model.
Wedding: You might dream of a June wedding but a winter one might mean more cash for the honeymoon.
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