The shopping season between Black Friday and Christmas resembles a battle royale between retailers, and for good reason. Retailers see $602 billion in sales in this time period, creating a competitive atmosphere that has each store vying for your money.
Some stores opt for deep discounts, others focus on stockpiling the “in” gifts of the season, and others, such as Macy’s, get the jump on other stores by opening up on Thanksgiving and creating mobile apps to make it simple for shoppers to purchase through their store. The holiday season may seem like the be-all, end-all time for discount shopping, but retailers also follow seasonal sales cycles for many product categories. Winter jackets, summer swimsuits, camping gear and more end up on the “too good to be true” sales rack when you look at the right time.
Much like seasonal fruits and vegetables, you have clothing seasons that are linked to the weather and climate. The fashion industry also drives seasonal clothing, as the latest lines get debuted and all of last season’s styles are relegated to the discount bin. Check for essentials such as winter jackets and sweaters as the year goes to spring. Department stores often coordinate their clothing seasonal sales with other products that are about to go back into storage, such as cold weather accessories. Time Magazine recommends checking for winter clothing in February, as it’s still cold enough outside that stores have plenty of stock, but they aren’t moving as many units because most people are geared up already.
Swimsuits are another piece of clothing to watch. It’s tempting to pick one up during the height of the summer, but if you wait until September you get the best deals with a fairly good selection.
Food sales cycles tend to weekly trends more than monthly or seasonal trends, outside of seasonal produce. Time recommends getting your meat purchases in during the morning on the weekdays. Look for specials that are marked down as they are close to their sell by date. Sometimes you receive significant discounts on these items. Eggs are another item to watch for sales based on the expiration date. Use these foods quickly, or in the case of meat, freeze it so you have plenty of time to eat it. Prepared food needs to be shuffled out the door before the end of the day, so it gets marked down shortly before closing every day. This is also the case with baked goods.
Online sales cycles often mirror their retail equivalents, but that’s not always guaranteed. You have many tools at your disposal to track online prices in order to determine if you’re getting the best deal. This is particularly important if you’re ordering from Amazon or another online retailer that often has wide fluctuations in their price ranges. Camel Camel Camel is a tool that tracks historical Amazon pricing trends for its products, allowing you to take a look at the items you’re interested in and find out whether you’re hitting a historically low price, or if you should wait.