September might be best known for back-to-school stories, but unbeknownst to so many Canadian consumers, it's also a terrific time of year for bargain hunters to get busy. Just ask Anna Waters, the cofounder of Bargain Moose, a national online resource and "shopping community" for those who like a good deal.
"While there are no specific sales to take advantage of post-Labour Day, it's a fairly quiet time for stores and therefore good time for bagging bargains on certain items," Waters says. "The best thing you can do to save money is to wait for the right time to buy the item -- then ideally combine the offer with a hot coupon code or extra discount and smile at your savings."
September is prime purchasing time for several products, including:
Get over it. It's actually not that far away. A lot of stores already have merry merchandise out; some of it is last year's stock that they want to get rid of, fast. Check out Sears.ca Outlet's Christmas Comes Early Sale, with discounts of up to 60 percent on holiday décor. (You could get a nine-foot, multicolour lit garland for $23.94, down from $59.99!)
Waters also suggests watching for sales on food that you can save till Christmas, such as canned goods, cookies, non-alcoholic drinks, and candies. Remember to check expiry dates.
There are still summer clearance sales going on, so you can find bathing suits, flip-flops, tank tops, and flirty summer dresses for next year. And with new fall fashions filling stores, many retailers are offering price cuts on the latest styles to get them off the racks and on the street, where other people will see them and want to snap up their own.
Whether it's camping equipment, barbecues, patio furniture, gardening tools, outdoor toys, or beach gear, fall makes a fine time to look ahead to the fun you'll be having next summer.
Shrubs and plants
Garden shops tend to get rid of several plant species as the weather cools off and people spend less time in their yards.
Early spring is when you get nailed on bicycle prices, while autumn means good deals. Specialty stores want to move inventory to make way for next season's supply, while big-box stores need to have room for toboggans and skis. Remember to check out helmets too.
September is the start of the new-car season, with 2013 models having already arrived. Dealers are keen to unload "old" 2012 cars right now.
Consumers don't have much negotiating power as Christmas draws near, but September is a quiet month for jewellers. They're more likely to drop prices right now to get them over the slump.
If you can hold off till September, you're likely to get better prices on items such as lunch boxes, laptops, back packs, and miscellaneous items that didn't sell as well as retailers had anticipated.
You stock up on berries in the summer, so why not look for what's in season in September to get good prices on other fruits and veggies? According to Eat the Seasons, now's the time for peak peaches, plums, apples, nectarines, corn, beets, eggplant, peppers, and more.
What not to buy
Bargain Moose's Waters notes that September isn't the best month to buy some products, however.
"If you're looking for any new entertainment electronics soon, we'd recommend you hold off to the boxing week sales in late December. These include big-screen TVs, tablets -- excluding the iPad -- home theatre systems, cameras and camcorders. At that time, the big box stores often have door crashers, offering highly discounted prices on certain items. Many now offer online shopping, so you don't even have to worry about lineups in the snow. Shop from your nice cozy home."
And mark Dec. 10 in your calendar for No Minimum Monday, when many Canadian online stores will be offering free shipping with no minimum purchase. "It's a good day to shop online," Waters says. According to Bargain Moose, participating stores include lululemon athletica, Peoples Jewellers, Sony, Roots, and Sears, among others.
Whatever it is you're looking for, you can generally avoid paying full price if it's not an urgent purchase.
"The best tool you can employ for this is patience," Waters says. "It can be difficult, but by being patient you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year.
"If there's a particular product you're interested in, especially big-ticket items, monitor the price closely; it's also a great idea to monitor the store's Twitter feed and Facebook wall. They may often mention sales or coupon codes that you won't be able to find elsewhere."