WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Best time to shop for items throughout the year

Posted January 14, 2013
Updated January 15, 2013

 

Patience equals savings when it comes to shopping. If you know when the best prices will be offered on many of the items we buy throughout the year, (and you can wait until then to make your purchase), you'll save big money! Do you know when the best time is to buy ketchup, cars or airline tickets?

When it comes to groceries (and a few other seasonal items), here's a schedule of best times to buy that has held true for the last few years. This list comes from my experience tracking prices and sales over the last decade. The grocery deals often include the use of coupons and seasonal North Carolina produce information comes from pickyourown.org.

January

* Health foods like diet bars, protein drinks, soup, healthy cereals, soy veggie burgers, oatmeal, and citrus fruits

* Post-holiday clearance sales on all things Christmas including decorations, gift wrap, cards, gift baskets, candy

* Holiday toy clearance (like the Target’s annual January toy clearance that happens every year in early to mid January)

* Winter clothes begin to go on clearance. Bathing suits start showing up on racks in January these days, so they need to clear out the snow bibs to make room for the swim trunks.

* Fitness equipment and workout clothes

* If you garden, you will start receiving seed catalogues in January

February

* Superbowl food like crackers, chips, cheese, dips, finger foods. Look for in-store rebates in the meat and beer sections from beer and wine companies offering rebates when you buy certain foods like chips, meat, sodas, party trays. In NC, you do not have to buy any alcohol to redeem these rebates per the wording on the rebate forms.

* Chocolate clearance (after February 14th)

* Roses – especially at the grocery stores. I have seen a dozen roses marked down to $5 after Valentine’s Day.

* TV’s and home theater systems just before the Superbowl

* Winter clothing and accessories clearance continues

March

* March is Frozen Food Month! There are usually tons of deals on frozen foods (and coupons available for these items) including frozen products like Green Giant boxed veggies, Bird’s Eye Steamfresh veggies, frozen dinners of every kind, ice cream and more. If you eat many frozen vegetables, this is a good time to stock up at low prices. Look for the “Penguin” coupon display found in the frozen food sections of many grocery stores. It is a large display shaped like a penguin and has tear pads with manufacturer’s coupons.

* Promotions for game day snacks like crackers, chips, cheese, dips, finger foods. Look for in-store rebates in the meat and beer sections from beer and wine companies offering rebates when you buy certain foods like chips, meat, sodas. In NC, you do not have to buy any alcohol to redeem these rebates per the wording on the rebate forms.

April

* Ham, strawberries, asparagus, lettuce

* Easter clearance for candy, kids Easter dresses, baskets and all things Easter

May

* BBQ ingredients for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend. You’ll find deals starting in May and continuing into August for BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, hot dogs, hamburgers, buns, ice cream, Popsicles, soda, chips, marinades, iced tea

* Seasonal produce in NC includes strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, summer squash (late May), zucchini (late May)

* Suncreen and bug spray

* Paper products and grilling supplies for picnics like paper plates, plastic cups, plastic utensils, charcoal, lighter fluid

June

* BBQ ingredients for the upcoming July 4th pinics. You’ll find deals starting in May and continuing into August for BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, hot dogs, hamburgers, buns, ice cream, Popsicles, soda, chips, marinades, iced tea

* Seasonal produce in NC includes beets, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, cucumber, summer squash, zucchini, onions, potatoes, green beans, snap beans

* Coupon warning: during the summer months, there have not been as many food coupons in the inserts. By August, readers are often wondering if we’ll ever get good coupons again. Have no fear! In the past years, the good coupons have appeared again in mid to late September and continue to get better through mid-December. Then we have a break from most manufacturer’s coupons from Christmas through New Years, After the first of the year, there are usually a ton of coupons in early January.

* Suncreen and bug spray

* Paper products and grilling supplies for picnics like paper plates, plastic cups, plastic utensils, charcoal, lighter fluid

July

* BBQ ingredients for July 4th and the rest of the summer. You’ll find deals starting in May and continuing into August for BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, hot dogs, hamburgers, buns, ice cream, Popsicles, soda, chips, marinades, iced tea

* Seasonal produce in NC includes blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, peaches, cantaloupe, cucumber, eggplant, garlic, summer squash, zucchini, onions, peppers, potatoes, green beans, snap beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelon

* Suncreen and bug spray

* Paper products and grilling supplies for picnics like paper plates, plastic cups, plastic utensils, charcoal, lighter fluid

* School supply sales begin in mid-July and last into early September. Pay special attention to the sale at office stores. Many offer free after rebate and 1-cent to 25-cent deals. The big box stores really amp up their school sales in late July and early August as well.

* Coupon warning: during the summer months, there have not been as many food coupons in the inserts. By August, readers are often wondering if we’ll ever get good coupons again. Have no fear! In the past years, the good coupons have appeared again in mid to late September and continue to get better through mid-December. Then we have a break from most manufacturer’s coupons from Christmas through New Years, After the first of the year, there are usually a ton of coupons in early January.

August

* Back to school food sales start in early August and you will find great deals on breakfast cereal, granola bars, juice boxes, lunch snacks like pudding cups and fruit snacks, peanut butter, jelly, chips. Many grocery stores run additional promotions for General Mills and Kellogg’s products when you buy qualifying amounts. They may offer a Catalina coupon for an amount off your next order, extra Box Tops, free products when you buy a certain amount, etc. Look for in-store coupon booklets on free-standing Back-to-School displays.


* BBQ ingredients for summer grilling. You’ll find deals starting in May and continuing into August for BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, hot dogs, hamburgers, buns, ice cream, Popsicles, soda, chips, marinades, iced tea

* Seasonal produce in NC includes apples, blueberries, grapes, pears, raspberries, eggplant, onions, peppers, potatoes, snap beans, green beans, sweet corn, tomatoes

* Suncreen and bug spray

* Paper products and grilling supplies for picnics like paper plates, plastic cups, plastic utensils, charcoal, lighter fluid

* School supply sales last into early September. Pay special attention to the sale at office stores. Many offer free after rebate and 1-cent to 25-cent deals. The big box stores really amp up their school sales in August as well.

* Bathing suits and beach toys begin to be marked down in August

* Coupon warning: during the summer months, there have not been as many food coupons in the inserts. By August, readers are often wondering if we’ll ever get good coupons again. Have no fear! In the past years, the good coupons have appeared again in mid to late September and continue to get better through mid-December. Then we have a break from most manufacturer’s coupons from Christmas through New Years, After the first of the year, there are usually a ton of coupons in early January.

September

* BBQ ingredients for Labor Day holiday grilling. You’ll find deals for BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, hot dogs, hamburgers, buns, ice cream, Popsicles, soda, chips, marinades

* Back to school food sales continue in September and you will find great deals on breakfast cereal, granola bars, juice boxes, lunch snacks like pudding cups and fruit snacks, peanut butter, jelly, chips. Many grocery stores run additional promotions for General Mills and Kellogg’s products when you buy qualifying amounts. They may offer a Catalina coupon for an amount off your next order, extra Box Tops, free products when you buy a certain amount, etc. Look for in-store coupon booklets on free-standing Back-to-School displays.

* Seasonal produce in NC includes apples, grapes, raspberries, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, peppers, potatoes, snap and green beans, winter squash, tomatoes

* Clearance on outdoor toys, out door furniture, grills, bathing suits, summer clothes

* Coupons: You’ll start to see an increase in coupons from the slow summer months leading into the holiday food coupons for baking and cooking. In the past years, the good coupons appear again in mid to late September and continue to get better through mid-Christmas. Then we have a break from most manufacturer’s coupons from Christmas through New Years and then there are usually a ton of coupons at the beginning of the year.

October

* You’ll start to see deals and coupons on more cold weather food and holiday food like soup, gravy, broth, canned fruits and canned vegetables.

* Holiday baking and cooking food sales kick in for the November and December holidays in mid-October. Look for deals on canned pumpkin, pie filling, whipped topping, pie crusts, flour, sugar, brown sugar, rolls, nuts, evaporated milk, condensed milk, stuffing mix, seasonings, canned cranberry, baking supplies like foil pans and aluminum foil.

* Coupons: You’ll find many holiday food coupons for baking and cooking as well as coupons for canned and frozen foods. In the past years, the good coupons appear again in mid to late September and continue to get better through mid-Christmas. Then we have a break from most manufacturer’s coupons from Christmas through New Years and then there are usually a ton of coupons at the beginning of the year.

* Seasonal produce in NC includes apples, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, potatoes, spinach, winter squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips

* Candy sales for Halloween are plentiful. For the cheapest chocolates and other candy, wait until early November when you will find candy marked down to 75% off to make room for the Christmas product.

* Cold medicines, cough drops, hand sanitzer

November

* Turkey, turkey and more turkey! This is the time to stock up on turkey for Thanksgiving and for post-holiday meals. Pick up an extra frozen turkey at 50-cents per pound or less or a frozen turkey breast at .99/lb and store it in the deep freeze to enjoy after the holidays.

* Soup, canned fruits, canned vegetables

* Holiday baking and cooking food sales are in full swing for the November and December holidays. This is the time to stock up on canned goods for the many winter months ahead. Look for deals on canned pumpkin, canned fruit for pies, pie crusts, flour, sugar, brown sugar, rolls, nuts, evaporated milk, condensed milk, yeast, chocolate chips, cooking oil, stuffing mix, seasonings, canned cranberry, baking supplies like foil pans.

* Coupons: You’ll start to see an increase in coupons from the slow summer months leading into the holiday food coupons for baking and cooking. In the past years, the good coupons appear again in mid to late September and continue to get better through mid-Christmas. Then we have a break from most manufacturer’s coupons from Christmas through New Years and then there are usually a ton of coupons at the beginning of the year.

* Seasonal produce in NC includes apples, beets, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, winter squash, pumpkins, turnips (you’ll also find good deals on sweet potatoes around Thanksgiving although they may not be local potatoes)

* Halloween candy clearance and decoration clearance. You’ll find candy marked down to 75% off.

* Cold medicines, cough drops, hand sanitizer

* Black Friday sales start the week of Thanksgiving and last until Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving). This kick-off to the official holiday shopping season usually means gret deals on products in many categories with some excellent buys being found online

December

* Holiday baking and cooking food sales are in full swing for the November and December holidays. This is the time to stock up on canned goods for the many winter months ahead. Look for deals on canned pumpkin, canned fruit for pies, pie crusts, flour, sugar, brown sugar, rolls, nuts, evaporated milk, condensed milk, yeast, chocolate chips, cooking oil, stuffing mix, seasonings, butter, cream cheese bricks, frozen pies, canned cranberry, baking supplies like foil pans and aluminum foil.

* Turkey and ham sales both occur in December, but the best turkey sales are usually in November BEFORE Thanksgiving. For the best deal, frozen turkey in November and don’t wait until December.

* Soup, canned fruits, canned vegetables, apples, citrus

* Coupons: You’ll find many holiday food coupons for baking and cooking as well as coupons for canned and frozen foods. In the past years, the good coupons appear again in mid to late September and continue to get better through mid-Christmas. Then we have a break from most manufacturer’s coupons from Christmas through New Years and then there are usually a ton of coupons at the beginning of the year.

* Holiday shopping deals are in full swing on everything from clothes to toys to electronics.

For information on the best time to buy non-grocery items, head to Lifehacker.com. You’ll find a long list of deals happening every month.

Please share any other seasonal or cyclical deals you recommend. Remember, it’s your money, spend it wisely!

 

12 Comments

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  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Jan 16, 12:07 p.m.

    Sounds like a great deal, redshoe! Glad you found it.

  • redshoe Jan 16, 8:57 a.m.

    Thank you so much for this post. It was perfect timing. We'd been needing a new grill since the summer but decided to wait to see if they would go on sale. After seeing your post, I was browsing the Sears web page and found the grill we wanted for almost $200 less than retail price. My husband is thrilled! Thanks!

  • grkmiley Jan 15, 10:51 p.m.

    TV are on sale now - Amazon and other retailers sold out of the TV we wanted (50 inch panasonic, we had to get the 55 inch Hubby was not sad). The new TV models come out in March so many box stores and online places are having really good sales now.

    Thanks vlynn for the tip on the paint sales.

  • vlynn Jan 15, 9:30 a.m.

    Home Depot and Lowes have two big paint sales and other home related items during the 4th of July and Labor Day

  • Packy Jan 15, 9:28 a.m.

    Maybe the shower gel I like the most is just too expensive with sales and coupons! lol I've got a ton of suave shower gel but it's just ok. I really like dial and not on sale it's around $6 so with sales and coupons it's still high. I was hoping there would be sometime during the year they're a bit lower. Oh well. I will keep a check out and buy a ton of it if I can ever find it lower.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Jan 15, 9:18 a.m.

    I'm with Nancy regarding bath and body care products. They are on sale throughout the year for good prices and there is not one good month or 2 when they are best. There are often some good deals on them with the drug store black friday sales but we get similar deals all year long at different stores with coupons and store rewards. If you are looking for bath and beauty gift sets, early January is best. The drug stores mark down the lotion/shower gel sets right after Christmas.

    Ginger - thanks for the e-mail prompting me to write the list. It's something I have been meaning to do for a while.

  • nakabi Jan 14, 7:10 p.m.

    Thanks for the list Faye; as always, I appreciate all the work you do!

  • Nancy Jan 14, 6:34 p.m.

    Packy, a lot of the feminine care items such as shower gels and the like get more attention (sales) just prior to Mother's Day and Valentines Day I've noted in the past. but I also find that the sales on those items seem to cycle around between the drug stores somewhat regularly. Hope they have a sale soon for you!

  • carelesswhisper Jan 14, 3:52 p.m.

    This is a great list. I too need a new tv so I will wait a few more weeks.

  • ncbeachbound2 Jan 14, 3:15 p.m.

    Thanks for the list and I can't wait to show it to my hubby. He is itching to buy a new TV and I keep telling him we need to wait another week or two. That the TVs will go on sale right before the Superbowl. He is a doubting thomas and I can't wait to prove that I'm right.

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