Look, the retailers have us all figured out: First whiff of spring air and we're stampeding out the door for breezy duds and gleaming new patio furniture. We're excited – crazed, even – after a long, cold, dark winter and we're willing to spend big on living that summer lifestyle.
Is it a need or a want?
But hold on! Ask yourself: Can you get through just one more season, this season, with what you already own and hang on until everything goes on sale? Be honest, now.
Truthfully, unless a squirrel gnawed through the propane line, the barbecue will do for one more season. And barring the raccoons overwintering in the lawn chairs... well, you get the idea. If you've gained or lost a bunch of weight then you've got a great excuse to go and buy new stuff at full price, but otherwise, get out that ironing board.
Timing is everything
Hey, we're not suggesting a total shopping moratorium, but if you're going to splash out on a couple of big items or several smaller ones, just wait a bit. In the darkest days of winter, shop around for the best prices on barbecues, outdoor furniture, hot tubs, pools and accessories, summer fashions, air-conditioning, boats and bicycles. Sure, the variety may not be as big and supplies may be dwindling but it’s worth a good look. Conversely, the dog days of summer are an ideal time to invest in a fireplace, energy-efficient furnace, water heater, snow blower, winter tires or a cosy goose-down parka.
With fashion, the seasons move faster. Typically, savings on summer clothes can be had as early as July or August, while fall and winter stuff is a deal come January or February, or even right after Christmas.
A calendar of savings
Here are some general guidelines. Independent shops work on their own schedules, so keep your eyes peeled throughout the year for deep discounts as the seasons wax and wane.
July and August
- Scour garden centres for deals on slightly wilted perennials and stock they don't want to put into storage. Come late summer or early fall, they're practically giving the stuff away.
- Clothing and shoe shops are clearing out the summer items to make room for fall.
September, October and November
- Outdoor living accessories – pools, ponds, patio sets, fire pits, barbecues – are being replaced with winter and holiday items.
- Summer-inspired home decor is also on the outs.
- Stock up on next year's holiday needs. We've all seen those smart shoppers stocking up on Christmas wrapping and greeting cards in January. Okay, admittedly it does take some of the romance out of the holidays, but fancy paper that costs $7.99 a roll in November goes for $2 in January. Hide it away and it will feel like new next November.
- Who's offering deals on AC units and installation?
- Shop for winter clothing and shoes.
February and April
- Attention chocoholics – if you're not above buying yourself unsold Valentine's or Easter chocolate, snack and save away!
Shopping out of season is like going on holiday in the off season – there are big savings to be had. Speaking of: Poke around the web now for hotels and resorts offering end-of-summer deals. You’ve been so good, you’ve earned a holiday.
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