When do things go on sale? What to buy and when

When do things go on sale? What to buy and when

Budget your buys based on sales cycles and you could save a bundle this year


I’m not sure if you do this, but every year I re-visit the list of what to buy when. It’s that evergreen list of items to buy based on sales cycles. It’s a habit I picked up from my mom, long before the Internet became the essential tool for the savvy shopper.

Years ago, OK, decades ago, when my mom had to plan the family budget based on one-salary, she would strategize about when to buy the essentials and, from the savings, figure out what and when to buy the items on our desire list. I have to say: She rarely, if ever, bought something on her own desire list, but that’s for another day.

Now that I’m a mom myself, I find myself imitating my ma only with the aid of technology.

So, with a new family budget, here’s my When To Buy for the Home/Family list:


Air conditioners. OK. If you can find an A/C unit in your local hardward store, then you’ll probably get a great deal. Chances are, though, there won’t be any left. Instead, consider checking the clearance stores for big stores, such as the Sears Outlet, or go online to see what sort of savings Big Box hardware stores are offering on out-of-season appliances.

Gas BBQs. While these products won’t be advertised, you will find great deals on Gas BBQs at big department stores and at Big Box hardware/home reno stores.

Clothing. Forget the pre-Christmas sales, post-Christmas is when you’ll find every store in every mall offering incentives. Whether it’s a discount or a Bogo (buy-one-get-one-free) you’re sure to find what you’re looking for and for less if you wait until January.

Carpet & flooring. Planning to replace those laminate floors? Want new broadloom in the den? Then go shopping for flooring in January. For some reason, most people will go carpet shopping at the end of the year, but wait until January and you’ll get that area rug, new wood floor, or wall-to-wall carpeting for cheaper.

Linens & Bedding: Want to replace your sheets or need a new duvet? Then January is the month to go shopping. Ever since John Wanamaker (the first department store owner) launched the first White Sale in 1878, January has become the defacto linen clearance month.

Suits. If you need suits for work, consider trekking to a good name suit supplier in January. You’ll see discounts and Bogos for a large number of dress and work wear.

Furniture. While different types of furniture will go on sale at different times of the year, January is considered a good “general clearance” month when it comes to furniture. That’s because most furniture companies will release new products in February and August—leaving stores to clear out older models in January and July.

Granola and dry goods. You’ll find savings and deals on Quaker products including oatmeal, granola bars, fibre bars and cereals. Great news if you’re family is like mine and eats their body weight in cereal/oatmeal each morning!

Diet food & some health products. Cashing in on New Year’s resolutions, many manufacturers will promote their products through sales. Pay attention to vitamins, which will often go on sale at this time of year, and you could save quite a bit.

Cough and cold medication & pain relievers. These go on sale at this time of year for obvious reasons.


Winter coats & clothing. We all know there’s another four to eight weeks of frigid temperatures, but clothing manufacturers are already preparing for spring. That means you can snap up great brand names at a fraction of the cost—sometimes as much as 75% off.

Televisions & home theatres. It’s pre-Super Bowl and the televisions and home theatres are on sale! You won’t find every model or make at a discount, but if you’re planning a big TV purchase and you missed the Black Friday deals, this is the month to buy great older model televisions and home theatre systems.

Pop & party foods. Also with an eye towards Super-Bowl, pop and party food manufacturers will offer discounts on their products with the hope that you’ll stock up. This includes pop and chips, but also includes dips, sandwich meats, cheese, crackers, cookies and grocer’s party trays.

Hot breakfast cereal. There’s a month for everything and apparently February is National Hot Breakfast month. Not into the celebration? Well maybe you’ll reconsider when oatmeal, grits, cream of wheat and other hot breakfast options go on sale at your local grocery store.

Butter & butter substitute. Don’t think this is worth a mention? Tell that to the shoppers at Toronto’s Eglinton West Freshco. Last year I watched shoppers line-up with shopping carts full of butter. Full. In case you wondered, that’s about six cases of butter. Why? Well, I’m sure part of the reason is that their diet was butter-rich, but another part of the reason is that it goes on sale at this time of year. (And according to my pastry chef sis-in-law, unsalted butter can keep for months and months!) But you’re not restricted to butter as margarine manufacturers also offer deals.

Canned foods. Of course, you can always find some canned good on sale, but this month you’ll probably find more brands and more sales. That’s because it’s National Canned Food month. And, no, I’m not making this stuff up.

Toothpaste & mouth hygiene products. Valentine’s Day (the day of chocolate) also prompts sales on all things oral.

Humidifiers. New models come out in the spring, so old models get priced to clear.


Chocolate. Wait until after Valentine’s day and you’ll notice big deals on chocolates. Check th expiry dates and you could pick up some great deals for Easter egg hunts.

Luggage. Since March is between vacation seasons, many shops will offer discounts on luggage at this time.

Houses. In the market for a new house? March is an ideal time to shop. With winter still gusting but spring poking its head through, March ends up being on the cusp of the busy selling season. Time it right and you may be able to snap up a home before the Spring rush pushes buyers out and prices up.

Frozen vegetables. Bet you didn’t know that March was National Frozen Food month? Find sales on all things frozen including: vegetables, fruit, meals, snacks, ice cream and pizza. Just head to your grocer’s freezer aisle this month and stock up.

Cleaning supplies. We like to spring clean and manufacturers like to cash in on our desire for a neat and tidy house. Expect to see all types of cleaners going on sale this month.


Televisions & home theatres. Yes. You could wait until Black Friday, or you could pick something up in February during pre-Super Bowl sales or you could wait for April and snap up last year’s models at a discount. That’s because most Japanese manufacturers end their fiscal year in March, which prompts sales of older models in the new year so they can clear their inventory. The deals are probably better now than in February, but it really depends on what you’re looking for.

Athletic shoes. Spring sales often means reductions on running and athletic shoes.


Cookware & kitchen stuff. Shopping cycles are as much about historical trends as they are about inventory clearances. Decades ago, a graduate could expect a set of new pots as a gift. These days, not so much, but the historical gift cycle means you can still find great grad-based sales on everything kitchen-related.

Vacuum cleaners. New vacuum models come out in June, so you’ll notice big sales on these items across the stores.

Refrigerators. New models come out this month, so stores will scramble to off-load last year’s inventory. This doesn’t apply to other appliances, just fridges.

Mattresses. Did you know manufacturer makers release new mattresses every year? You’d figure you can’t really change what’s already a pretty standard item, but tell that to the person who figured out how to make a bed out of memory foam. If you’re shopping for a new bed and what a top-of-the-line item, consider making your purchase in May. You’ll pay for last year’s model, but at big discounts. If you really want this year’s model, you may also find some savings as salespeople will be anxious to break-in the new inventory.

Sauces. Since most people kick off the grilling season in May, sauces and marinades tend to go on sale. Look for deals on steak and BBQ sauces, as well the standard condiments and salad dressings. Other products on sale include: pickles, buns, cuts of meat, taco items and picnic supplies.

Sun care and insect repellant. WIth spring comes sunburns and insect bites. Stock up on sale items to treat and prevent sun damage and bites.


Dishware. Shopping for new plates and glasses. Do it in June.

Gym memberships & equipment. In January and June gym equipment go on sale. In January it’s about capturing the wallets of New Year resolutions and in June it’s about clearing the shelves.

Dairy items. Yep. It’s National Dairy Month. So all things dairy will be promoted and on sale, including: milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream and cottage cheese.


Furniture. While different types of furniture will go on sale at different times of the year, January is considered a good “general clearance” month when it comes to furniture. That’s because most furniture companies will release new products in February and August—leaving stores to clear out older models in January and July.

Picnic goods. Condiments, salad dressings, sauces and ice cream will all be on sale in anticipation of family picnics.

First-aid supplies. Update your family first-aid kit when supplies go on sale in July. Everything from antiseptics to bandaids to antiobiotic treatment will have sale deals.


Linens & home/storage containers. Just before school is when most people think of organizing and for that reason you’ll see sales for linens (think dorm room sheets) and storage containers.

Craft supplies. Find these items alongside school supplies but, unlike school supplies which will drop in price in a month, the sales on craft supplies typically disappear once the school year starts.

Dorm & office furniture. Smaller size furniture, appropriate for dorms or school lockers, as well as home office items are now available and on sale at stores.

Swingsets and outdoor play equipment. Non-permanent pools go on sale, but so do outdoor playsets. You can find some great savings at Big Box stores and toy stores for these items and you can still get a month or more of play time on the structures.

Swimsuits. According to retailers swim season is over, but parents know that swim lessons are all year round. Stock up on the next swimsuit size now so you don’t pay full price later.

Dehumidifiers. Just like humidifiers in the spring, dehumidifiers go on sale now that the hot, wet season is over.


Kids clothing. Yes there are tons of sales in August, but if you wait a week or two after school starts you’ll save even more on brand name clothes.

School supplies. Yes. All things school-related will go on sale. And yes, you will find great deals in August. But if you can hold off until the first week of school you’ll find prices slashed, although selection won’t be as robust.

Lawnmowers. With summer over you’ll start to see deals on larger garden equipment including lawn mowers.

Tomato products. No. It’s not National Tomato Month, but it is the season for tomatos. Many people will buy bushels of tomatos to make their own sauce, but even more will stock up on pre-made pasta sauces and all things tomato this month with sales on all canned tomato goods.


Kraft products. While we don’t do strategic couponing in Canada, but we are privy to the big sales pushes. Every year, Kraft offers deals on their products during the month of October. This includes crackers, peanut butter, candy making items and holiday sauces.

Patio furniture & gas BBQs. The outdoor season is coming to a close and the deals on patio furniture and BBQs are just heating up.

Bikes. This is the first month you’ll see sales on bikes. Expect anywhere from 25% to 50% off. Wait a few more months and you could find 50% to 75% off last year’s models.

Winter coats & winter wear. While the deals won’t be as good as the ones you’ll find in February, you’ll still save money if you buy your winter gear in October rather than November.


Cookies and candy. Sales from Halloween leftovers can mean good deals on cookie and candy purchases. Also look for deals on cookie and candy making supplies.

Cookware & flatware. You’ll find sales across the country on these items.

Blu-Ray movies. Just in time for the holidays, blu-rays will often go on sale this time of year.


Bikes. While I always find the selection a little sparse, if you can find what you’re looking for now is the month to buy a bike.

Appliances. Go shopping Boxing Week and you’ll notice great big savings on appliances. Just about every store are pumping out deals so decide what you want and then flyer shop before going online or to the store.

Toys and games. Shop for toys and games before Christmas by keeping your eye on flyers. You’ll see big savings on most items it’s just a matter of being patient and persistently checking flyers. For even bigger savings on brand names, such as Lego, consider waiting until Boxing Week.

Artificial trees and Christmas ornaments. Wait until Dec. 26th and you’ll save 50% to 100% on all things Christmas, including wrap, trees, ornaments and lights.

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