Chairs on upper deck as it overlooks lake.

How to Seasonally Shop Like a Pro

You can stock up on items that are out of season.

Chairs on upper deck as it overlooks lake.

You can find great deals on patio furniture if you wait until the end of summer.

By + More

To be a savvy shopper, you need to know more than where to find deals and sales on whatever it is you need. You also need to know when to buy certain items. Seasonality is a big deal when it comes to saving money. If you are wise about when to find the best prices on specific products throughout the year, then you will be miles ahead of other shoppers that aren’t in the know and spend too much as a result.

Stock up at the end of the season.

This is a tactic many have used at one time or another; most often in the form of stocking up on Christmas lights and decorations the week before New Year’s when the prices plummet. While it has its downside – you’re buying new things to immediately pack away and not use for another year – you’ll be glad you did it when the time comes to put the tree back up and you’re ahead of the game.

Season’s end shopping is the perfect way to get the best prices on specialty items. Retailers need to move out the old inventory and will slash prices to the bone if necessary to make it happen. So, once the dog days of late-summer roll around, stock up on what you need for next time: new camping equipment, kids’ swimsuits that are a size bigger than this year’s version, summer clothes that cost a fraction of what they did in April or patio furniture.

 Buy big ticket items at holiday sales.

If you’re in the market for big, expensive items, wait for a holiday sale. We’ve all seen the ads for the sales on federal holidays – Memorial Day Blowout, President’s Day Savings, Columbus Day Shopapalooza – you get the idea. During those three-day-weekends, you will always find a vast array of savings on big appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines. Most of the time, these sales are actually the best prices of the year on those items.

You’ll also always find holiday sales on two product categories: electronics – televisions in particular – and mattresses. With electronics, the technology advances so quickly that models become dated even faster than driving a car off the lot. As for mattresses, well, they’re expensive and something everyone needs to replace about every 10 years or so. High-dollar items with consistent demand will always have plenty of featured deals during holidays.

In addition, holiday sales offer the consumer a great opportunity to shop at stores that offer competitor price-matching, such as Best Buy and Sears (full disclosure: both are advertisers). Anything to one-up the other guy is good for business, so it’s good for the shopper, too.

Shop at weeklong “holiday” sales.

If you shop online or pay attention to the onslaught of Black Friday commercials in November, you’ll notice that a “holiday” sale is rarely contained to just one day anymore. Stores fall all over themselves to beat the competition to the punch that it’s quite common to offer a Memorial Day or President’s Day sale that lasts for the entire week. Back to school sales can go on for a month or more.

Even with the extended time period, though, it’s always best to shop the sales as soon as possible. They can be prone to rotating products on sale during different days, with most of the good stuff front-loaded. And if they’re offering a really fantastic deal, especially on a big ticket item, it will sell out fast.

Only buy true “sale” items.

Finally, it may sound obvious, but when shopping seasonally or during a holiday, only buy items that are actually on sale. Stores will lure you in with a fantastic deal on a television that may truly be the lowest price you’ve ever seen, but if you end up buying a lot of other regularly-priced items on impulse, then you didn’t save much at all. What you’ve done is fall into the retailer’s trap. If you find yourself asking, “How can they offer that kind of price?” it’s because they’re hoping that’s not the only item you buy. If you can, resist the urge; that impulse item could very well be your great find of the next seasonal sale.