Retailers offer sales and promotions throughout the year, but is there a rhyme or reason to it all?
Should you buy certain things now and wait on others? In many cases, the answer is yes. There really is a best time to buy.
Some sales are seasonal, as in, you’ll see deeper discounts on summer clothing and outdoor “gear”, like patio furniture, at the end of summer, rather than at the beginning.
It’s not that these items won’t be on sale at all during the summer, but the discounts will be deeper and broader at the end of the season when retailers are trying to clear space for the new season’s merchandise.
Some sales are tied to big shopping periods, like Valentine’s Day, Back to School, or Christmas, when there’s an uptick in consumer interest for certain items. And other sales occur when retailers are clearing space for new models or styles.
Remember, there’s a lot of competition amongst retailers and they want you to shop with them instead of their competitors. Offering sales is a big part of how they entice you.
And while you’ll usually find more generous discounts from your big retailers, like Target or Amazon, try to patronize your local mom & pop shops, too. They need you to stay afloat and they may offer unique items that the big guys won’t.
What To Buy In January
Now that the holidays are over, you might need a break from shopping. But, just in case you still have a touch of the shopping bug or you have an item or two to return, you will find deals in select categories as retailers attempt to clear space for spring merchandise.
One category where we see deals year after year is White Sales. Retail lore has it that White Sales originated at Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia, PA. The founder, John Wanamaker, offered sales on bed linens – which were mostly white at the time – to generate some business during a typically slow time.
Other categories that are worth looking at in January fall under “New Year/New You,” in keeping with the New Year’s resolutions that many of us make. There will be sales on fitness apparel and equipment, gym memberships, subscription-based fitness apps, wellness-related products, etc.
MLK weekend, like all other 3-day weekends, will have sales as well but the sales aren’t as notable as other 3-day weekends. What we usually see here are deals on winter apparel and outerwear, as retailers clear space for spring styles. I’ve found that most deal activity in January often peaks this weekend, so stay sharp!
Leading up to the Superbowl, TVs will be on sale. The discounts aren’t usually as deep as Black Friday/Cyber Monday, but they can be deep enough to be worth a look if you need a new TV. You’ll also find sales on entertaining items and food & beverages, as people gear up for watch parties.
What To Buy In February
With February, comes Valentine’s Day and President’s Day. Prior to Valentine’s Day, we’ll see plenty of gift-related deals, including jewelry, fragrances, and chocolate. Anything specifically Valentine’s-themed will be priced to move the closer you get to the holiday.
There will also be a lot of flower sales, both in-store and online, but do your homework. Sometimes, these sale prices can be based on inflated pricing, making the sales much less exciting than they appear.
This is one of the few times during the year that we see widespread jewelry deals, so if even if you’re planning to purchase a jewelry gift for a special occasion later in year, it’s worth taking a peek.
President’s Day brings deals on mattresses and other sales in the Home category, like appliances, decor, window treatments, rugs, etc. And just in time for early tax prep (groan), tax software will be well-priced. Bottom line, there are always sales over three day weekends. The assumption being that people will want to stroll the mall or browse online during their extended weekend.
What To Buy In March
Despite the fact that March has none of the reliable sale markers, like a gift-giving holiday or a three-day weekend, March straddles winter and spring, which presents several interesting sale opportunities. We’ll see end-of-season clearance sales on winter apparel as well as “teaser” deals on new spring styles. What I mean by “teaser” is that a retailer might offer discounts on one or two specific items, but those sales won’t be broad and the discounts won’t be deep.
This month, we often see beauty promotions as we transition our looks from winter to spring. If you’ve been dying to try that new peach lip gloss, here’s your chance!
And just in time for your spring break planning…travel deals! The travel deals tend a bit of a mixed bag, some airfares, some hotels, some cruises, etc. So check your favorite travel site and see what’s on offer. Look for deals on travel gear, too.
What To Buy In April
What we usually see around this time of year are great prices on gear for outdoor activities, like camping, hiking, and outdoor games. We also see plenty of deals on toys & games, which is the first time we’ve seen sales in this category since December.
Right around April 15th, some merchants will be offering “Tax Day” deals to encourage you to spend some of that refund. But don’t go overboard. It’s ok to spend some of your refund, but it’s important to save the lion’s share of it.
Earth Day is April 22, so there will be promotions on Earth-friendly merchandise, like “green,” upcycled, or recyclable items.
I’ve also seen a handful of “Spring Black Friday” sales around this time of year.
What To Buy In May
The weather tends to improve in May, so retailers offer deals on athletic apparel and footwear to entice us to get out and get fit. If your sneakers or leggings are ratty, stock up now!
We will also see plenty of fun Star Wars-theme deals in celebration of May 4th’s “May the Fourth Be With You.”
Right before Mother’s Day, we see a flurry of promotional activity as we scurry around looking for gifts for Mom. And the sales on all those gifty items will be there to help you along. Jewelry tends to be a big category in May, as it was over Valentine’s Day.
Memorial Day is one of the bigger 3-day weekends of the year when it comes to discounts. This long weekend is usually packed with promotions in the kitchen and appliance categories as well as mattresses – perfect timing for graduation and wedding gifts!
What To Buy In June
As we prepare for the school year to end and for summer fun to begin, we’ll see sales centered around outdoor fun, including outdoor games, inflatable pools, and bikes, as well as some fitness-related deals.
Perfect for rainy or hot days, there are also promotions centered around indoor entertainment, like video games and streaming services.
Summer travel will be on sale this month, so it’s not too late to plan a last-minute summer getaway.
And don’t forget Dad! Prior to Father’s Day, we’ll see lots of sales on gift-related items so you can find a budget-friendly present for Dad.
Victoria’s Secret usually holds a semi-annual sale in June, and we’ll sometimes see category competitors getting in the game with their own lingerie deals.
What To Buy In July
It’s officially summer! With the temperatures heating up, you might feel like escaping into the air-conditioning at your favorite mall to get some shopping done.
A great time to do that is over the July 4th long weekend where most retailers will have items on sale. And the deals can be substantial, particularly on large appliances, mattresses and outdoor gear.
Amazon Prime Day also occurs in mid-July. It’s become Amazon’s biggest sale day of the year – even bigger than Black Friday or Cyber Monday or their second Prime Day in October – and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of deals on everything from Amazon devices all the way to beauty deals from indie brands sold on Amazon. Not to be left out, countless retailrs will launch sales of their own, so expect to see generous discounts from retailers, like Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, and Best Buy.
And then there’s the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, which is great for deals on mid-to-high-end apparel, accessories and beauty brands.
You’ll also see a smattering of early Back to School sales later in the month at a variety of retailers. My advice? Only buy Back to School items if they’re discounted 20% or more or if there’s an item that you fear might sell out. Discounts, in general, will be deeper in August.
What To Buy In August
If you haven’t started your school shopping, no worries! The best deals on binders, backpacks and lunch bags are this month, anyway.
No school-aged kids? Use those Back to School deals to spruce up the home office.
When it comes to school clothes, try to focus on warmer weather clothing. You’ll find clearance-level deals as retailers prepare for the influx of fall merchandise. You’ll see a smattering of fall clothing, but the prices will be better in late September and October. Because of this, try to save a bit of your Back to School budget for after school starts. Your kids will have a chance to check out what other kids are wearing and decide who they want to be this year.
Closer to the end of the month, keep your eyes peeled for deals on patio furniture and grills. Those sales typically heat up over Labor Day, but those summer clearance deals are not to be ignored.
What To Buy In September
September is one of those months that is packed with deals, but be prepared – early in the month around Labor Day weekend will be the best time to shop.
We’ll see amazing sales on outdoor gear & entertaining, mattresses, small electronics and even Back to School clearance (although, pickings will be slim).
Note that if you need electronics, like laptops, tablets and printers for your kids (or for yourself), this could be the last time you’ll see sales in this category until Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Later in the month, you might start to see sales on fall clothing, but the discounts will be deeper and broader in October.
What To Buy In October
Thanks to Amazon’s second prime day sale and competitive sales from other retailers, October has become the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season. If you can think about holiday shopping this early, start building your gifit list and keep your eyes peeled for related deals.
This month is also a good time to replace those worn out sneakers Every year, we see lots of sales on footwear, so it might be time to treat yourself to some new kicks. These deals are especially common around Columbus Day weekend.
The home category is a good bet this month as well. We’ll see deals on everything from bed & bath and lighting to cooking and serving essentials, so it’s a perfect time to spruce up the house and get ready for the holidays.
And Halloween! If you have a specific costume (or candy) in mind, you might want grab it early even though it’s not on sale because some popular costumes might sell out. The closer we get to Halloween, the deeper the discounts will be on costumes and candy, but the selection may be a bit thin.
And while car sales are not my area of expertise, but many experts say that October is a great time for car shopping.
What To Buy In November
You may not be in the holiday spirit yet, but “Black November” is here, and that means sales and deals galore. Everywhere you turn, you’re going to see promotional announcements from every retailer imaginable.
Those announcements and the depth of the discounts on offer will snowball as the month progresses. The finale will be Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
A note: it can be overwhelming with so many sales out there, which can cause us to purchase things needlessly. To stay on track, make your gift list, set your budget and focus on the categories that will be the most deeply discounted this month, like fall apparel clearance sales, beauty products, small kitchen appliances, and electronics, like laptops, TVs and gaming consoles.
What To Buy In December
It’s holiday crunch time! Hopefully, you scored some great deals over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but you probably have a few stragglers on your gift list.
Or perhaps you haven’t begun? In either case, there’s no need to despair. Despite having those big shopping days in the rearview mirror, December can be a great time to shop.This month, we often see sales on outerwear – which is unexpected being that we’re still a bit early in the winter season, but we see pre-holiday sales in this category year after year. Holiday-themed merchandise, gift sets, toys & games, and gift cards will be discounted this month. And for gift cards specifically, some retailers will offer promotions around them – like buy X and get a free $10 gift card – and you can also use a platform like GiftCardGranny, which has gift cards from thousands of retailers. Sometimes, there will even be a discount or cash back offer at GiftCardGranny, so bookmark their site!
We’ll see sales galore throughout the month, but the days to look out for are Free Shipping Day, which is mid-month, and Super Saturday, which is the Saturday before Christmas. And don’t forget post Christmas sales!