The best time to buy...anything!

6:55 PM, Jan 24, 2011   |    comments
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TAMPA BAY, Florida - As easy as it is to score big bargains on Black Friday and around the holidays, it may be even easier the rest of the year...if you know how to shop.

Because many products and big-ticket items follow predictable price fluctuations, you can often land discounts by timing your purchases.  Pat Largo, with, Chris Rokosz, a local "How To" expert, and Kathy Crotts from the Nature of Art Gallery in St. Pete share their insights on the best times to buy a number of different items.

Their suggestions, along with other publicized industry "secrets," are compiled below.

The Best Time to Buy:

Air conditioners - Best deals are available in the winter, but they may be tough to come by after October/November.
Airfare - Unless you are looking to travel around a holiday, shop on a Tuesday or Wednesday between 21 and 27 days before your flight.  It's typically cheaper to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday.  And since fares change at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. on weekdays and once each Saturday and Sunday, if you don't find a price you like, keep searching. 
Appliances (small) - New models come out in September and October, meaning big bargains on the previous year's models.
Appliances (large) - September and October are also best, as are any long holiday weekends.
Bicycles - New models come out in early spring, making it the best time to buy last year's models.
Boats - Competition at the spring boat shows often yeilds the best bargains.
Cars - New models come out in the fall, so September is the best time for the previous years'.  For used cars, supply is highest in the spring.  And salespeople do try to hit quotas, so end-of-month is often the time you'll have the most leverage.
Cell phones - There is no best time of the year since new models come out so often.  Also, since the plans subsidize the cost of the phones, finding an affordable plan is more important than the hardware.  However, the older a phone model, the cheaper it will be.
Champagne - Intense competition before New Year's makes December the best time to buy bubbly.
Clothing - It's hard to wait for an item you really want, but if you can hold out a bit, items usually get marked down 6-8 weeks after they are first advertised/released.  Also, shop on Thursdays when the weekend sales just start so you get the best selection of sale merchandise.
Computers - Back-to-school sales are good deals, so shop July through September.  But much like other electronics, if you wait until a replacement model is replaced, the previous model will be available at deep discounts.
Cookware - Sales often occur in the spring, around graduation and wedding season (April/May), and the fall, early in the holiday shopping season (October/November).
Electronics (small) - The best deals come after Christmas when retailers clear out old models and new models hit the shelves.
Furniture - January and July, when new models come out and stores look to clear out old inventory.
Hardware - You may be best-served to look for Father's Day and Christmas sales.
- Weekdays are often cheaper than weekends, with Wednesday and Thursday typically the best bargains of the week.
Gym Memberships - Avoid the New Year's rush!  Signing up in the spring and summer should get you a better rate, with leverage to negotiate bonuses and waived fees.
Jewelry - Avoid the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.  Prices are also highest in the fourth quarter of the year, so January to October is best.
Linens - You can score huge savings by hitting up the clearance sales at the very end of each season as well as the annual "White Sales" in January.
Mattresses - April and May are generally the months stores will try to clear out their inventory to make room for the new models, but many experts say there's no real predictable pattern for this product.
Real Estate - The housing crash has made this market a bit more unpredictable and Florida doesn't always follow the national model, but across the U.S., spring and summer are better times for sellers, while fall and winter are better times for buyers.
Televisions - Prices fluctuate a great deal and there's no clear consensus as to the best time to buy.  Some experts believe the Black Friday, Christmas, and Super Bowl sales yield the best deals.  Others believe prices drop after those "holidays" as retailers try to clear out stock.  But don't forget August and September, when new models hit the shelves.
Toys - October and November are the pre-holiday months retailers mark down toys to clear space for the big Christmas sellers.
Vacuums - New models hit stores in June, so April and May are best times to get clearances on the previous year's models.

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