Paula Holloran and her two best shopping buds, daughters Kylie and Grace, spent their President's Day doing the next best thing to sledding—hitting the sales at South Park Mall for Grace's birthday.
"We got some matching shirts, some necklaces, some stuffed animals,” said Holloran.
Retail observers say really big markdowns can range from 50% to 80%-- the problem is, those discounts may not apply to big-ticket items for which consumers are looking.
If there’s time to plan for a big purchase, shoppers may be able to save money by consulting the following retail calendar featuring research by Consumer Reports.
January is typically the month when items like bedding, swimwear, toys, treadmills, TVs and winter clothes are drastically reduced in price.
February is a good time to find rock-bottom prices on humidifiers, indoor furniture and exercise equipment like treadmills or ellipticals.
Shoppers might want to wait until March if they’re in the market for digital cameras, small consumer electronics like MP3 players and winter sports gear.
April showers bring May flowers, as well as super savings on laptop and desktop computers, and lawn mowers. Digital cameras are still hot, too.
May is the month to find bargains on athletic apparel and shoes, camping and outdoor gear, carpeting and cordless phones.
June traditionally brings the lowest prices on camcorders, computers, indoor furniture and any carpeting that didn’t sell the previous month.
Summer is full swing in July and so are deals on indoor furniture, outdoor furniture and all those swimsuits that never made it to the beach.
Look for your better sale prices on air conditioners and dehumidifiers in August. It’s still prime time to find bargain-basement prices on outdoor furniture and—if you like to plan ahead—snow blowers.
Summer starts winding down in September and so does the demand for bikes, digital cameras, gas grills, lawn mowers, and all things devoted to landscaping, like shrubs, trees and perennials.
The price of computers takes a dip in October while leftover deals on gas grills and lawn mowers take a plunge. Meanwhile, retailers remind consumers that winter is just around the corner with super low deals on winter coats.
November’s a good time to stock up on baby products, and some of those more popular items that tend to end up under the tree, like camcorders, GPS navigators and television sets.
You’ll find great deals on those same items in December, along with small consumer electronics like DVD and Blu-Ray players—and of course— Black Friday deals on third-tier televisions are always at their lowest.
"I always thought it was like a good time, like in January to buy a TV,” said Holloran, “That there was some sort of strategy, like this is when they're trying to get rid of inventory."
Indeed, the retail calendar is a necessary part of any bargain hunter’s strategy.