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Shopping Seasons

Author: Clifford Dale
Posted: 2010.08.02

Merchants usually plan advertising campaigns for traditional shopping seasons defined by holiday gift giving periods and seasonal weather changes, whenever the greatest influx of buyers is expected, which practice enables the highest pricing. Budget conscious shoppers can take advantage of this law of supply and demand to chart an alternative shopping strategy for the less marketed, but more sharply discounted, product categories available throughout the year. In addition to the advertised bargains, merchants eager to clear last season's inventory are more amenable to haggling, and consumers can pick up some outstanding bargains this way as well. We have consulted a number of information sources for commercial and retail trends, and have identified the product categories which are available at the best prices for each month of the year.


If the demand and pricing for winter holiday decorations is highest right before the season in November and December, then expect prices for these items to be at their lowest right after the season ends. The cold weather, as well as recovering from the holiday rush, tends to keep people inside where the focus turns to home furnishings, which motivates many merchants to offer great sales on whites and other soft home furnishings during the weeks following the holiday period. Barbeque grills, outdoor and other summer furniture also are available at a steep discount this month. No one is thinking about air conditioning at this time of year, which makes this the perfect month in which to upgrade to a more energy efficient model.


The coldest month of the year produces the best bargains for summer fashions and sports equipment, especially bathing suits, water skis, bicycles, and other items associated with the warmer months. Trade shows for boats, TV and home entertainment systems, and small electronics usually held this or late last month, where the newest and forthcoming models and editions are first marketed, compel retailers to make room for new products by offering steep discounts on current inventory. Cell phones are not included in this category, as no month is better than another for bargains, due to the continuous release of new models throughout the year, and bargains on older models found easily at any time of the year.


As the snow melts, the demand for winter clothing declines, and inventory-clearing bargains help to empty the racks in preparation for the new spring and summer fashion lines, producing a great opportunity to get that warmer coat, better pair of boots and new scarf for next year while the memory of winter is still fresh. Deals on bulk frozen food are traditionally offered during Frozen Food Month. The winter travel season is over, and spring break is about to begin, making this month also a good choice for buying luggage, but shop early.


Spring cleaning is underway, and retailers as well as individual households take the opportunity to weed their inventories by staging garage sales and events. Vacuum cleaner models are introduced later in the summer, making this month good for replacement or upgrade. If you have been meaning to explore the nearby outdoor flea market, this month would be a good time to have that adventure. Cookware has two annual bargain periods, this month prior to the traditional wedding and graduation celebrations coming in the next two months when demand will be heaviest, and again in October. Real estate inventory is generally higher this month than at any other time, making this the best month for house hunting.


The new season for bedding and bedroom furnishings begins during the summer months, and last year's inventory must be cleared out this month, making this an excellent month to buy that new mattress on your list. Grocery stores usually offer specials on outdoor picnic and grilling supplies during National Barbeque Month, where you can stock up for the summer outdoor cooking season while prices are still low. This is inventory clearing time for athletic wear, as the new lines arrive next month, and great bargains on shoes, gloves and other sporting apparel are common this month.


Jewelry for this popular wedding month has been purchased by now, the other traditional jewelry buying seasons like Valentine's Day and the winter holidays are a long way off, and demand for jewelry is relatively low during the summer, making this the best month to buy that watch or other personal item you have been coveting. Hardware and tools also are usually available at the best prices this month. Dairy products are heavily marketed with great bargains in grocery stores during Dairy Month to help build solid dairy demand habits during the summer months.


Just as cold weather keeps the focus indoors, hot weather tends to steer attention to outdoor activities when redecorating and upgrading indoor furniture is the last thing on anyone's mind, making this month the perfect time to find the best bargains at furniture stores eager for business. Bargains on back to school clothing are best found this month right before this season begins. Computer dealers offer the best deals on current computer systems, as they need to clear their stock before the new fall models arrive.


The hottest month is the deadest month for retailers, and assorted sales and bargains can be found everywhere. Stationery, holiday greeting cards, and office supplies often are offered at deep discounts from early to mid-month, with some states even providing a sales tax discount for school supplies, but watch carefully as prices may climb when schools begin to open during the last week. Back to school clothing is heavily marketed during this month, but likely is not as competitively priced as in the preceding month before the fall line arrives.


As the weather starts to cool later in the fall, consumers usually start to think about upgrading their water heaters, air handlers and other appliances for greater energy efficiency, making this month ideal for taking advantage of sales offered by appliance dealers to clear their inventory before the higher-priced models of the new season arrive. Car and RV dealers must clear their inventories for the new models arriving next month, making this month the best time to shop for a new vehicle. The best deals on gardening supplies, trees, shrubs and bulbs also are offered this month.


There is no one special shopping season for airline travel, but winter holiday travelers would do well to make their ticket purchases well in advance, at least by the end of this month. In addition to the April cookware bargain period, this month also is a good time to pick up some bargains, and beat the winter gift giving rush. Toys and games are great buys this month, as retailers need to prepare for the upcoming holiday season.


The weeks immediately following Halloween provide the best bargains on bulk candy, including many specialty items usually available only during holiday periods. Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday, following Thanksgiving, are when merchants pull out all of the stops for the winter holiday shopping season, it is probably best to postpone your computer shopping until at least the following week, preferably until next July, and postpone other shopping until a more favorable month for that respective product category.


This month generally is the worst month for finding bargains in any category. Many retailers do offer great deals on computers and accessories in order to take advantage of a holiday-motivated buying public that generally does not consider buying computing equipment for gift-giving at this time of year, but the summer months are better for buying computing systems before the new season's models arrive. Consider scheduling your marriage for this or next month instead of June, as wedding services and honeymoon-related travel prices are lowest in the winter months.

The first White Sale was offered in 1878 by John Wanamaker's The Grand Depot, Philadelphia's first department store, as a means of keeping linen manaufacturers producing during their slowest period of the year. In those days, linens were available only in white.

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