Most of this sage wisdom, however, does not come from data, but rather from inferences or common sense, and that can be hit or miss. Sure, it makes sense that dishes might be on sale during wedding season, but when you think about, just the opposite could be true. If lots of people are buying for weddings where they are honor-bound to buy a gift on a registry, why would retailers pick that moment to lower prices? On the other hand, thinking that swimsuits are cheapest to buy at the end of August or early September, when merchants are clearing out seasonal stock, is a pretty safe bet.
[time-link title="(Read about Amazon.com's new fashion site)" url=http://techland.time.com/2011/05/03/amazon-styles-up-with-new-fashion-site/]
So how do you figure out what’s best to buy? If you look at data on prices across seasons and go back several years, you can suss out when certain items hit their lowest price points and make a very educated extrapolation about what will happen this year. A search through the extensive archives of prices at dealnews.com helps sort out what’s best to buy now and what you should try to avoid.
Here are eight categories where you can either get a deal or potentially get rooked:
Deal: Father’s Day
Dads are in luck this year, because the National Retail Federation is predicting a steep rise in spending per dad this year. Much of that money is going to be spent on tools, which are about the only good deal to get in June. But you can also get some more interesting deals on Father’s Day gifts if you search around a bit, like sweat-resistant dress shirts on sale, and find T-shirts and funny geek chic items at stores like Tanga.com and Thinkgeek.com.
Need to get away? The best travel deals you’ll be able to find in June on airfares are going to be on Spirit, which has several sales this month. Also, Air France has a yearly summer sale that is usually around this time. Cruises and vacation packages to the Caribbean are also typically on huge discount in June, since hurricane season starts on the first of the month. For outdoorsy types, don’t forget that national parks are free on June 21.
Deal: Movie Tickets
Movie tickets don’t actually really go on sale at theaters; mostly the prices just go up and up and up. But summer does bring special promotions at theaters for $1 daytime movies at Regal or $1 movies at AMC, mostly for kiddie shows (at least going by past deals). For adults, the deals come from buying advance vouchers from Fandango, Groupon and other daily deal sites. These are available all year long, of course, but in the summer, there are actually blockbuster movies you might want to watch.
Deal: 3-D Blu-ray players
The best time to buy Blu-ray players, as it is with most electronics, is in November and December when prices hit rock bottom for Christmas holiday shoppers. But while dealnews.com has seen the price of standard Blu-ray players go up over the past few months, prices on 3D Blu-ray players have been coming down. In fact, they are close now to an all-time price low. So if you see one on sale for $100 or less (like this 3D LG model), you might want to make the jump.
[time-link title="(Read about the new breed of massive discount retailers)" url=http://moneyland.time.com/2011/05/09/invasion-of-the-discount-retailers/]
Not a Deal: TVs
On most “best times to buy” lists you’ll see TVs listed in June, supposedly because that’s when the Japanese fiscal year ends. As dealnews.com has found, the lowest prices are consistently in November and December, hands down. In fact, prices typically go up in May and June. The only caveat to this is large 3-D models, which have been on a steady slide that started last June.
Not a Deal: Video Games
When the kids get out of school, what do they want to do? Play the video games that have been restricted all year. You can bet a lot of parents will be heading to the stores to pick up new games to keep the kids from getting bored on rainy days. But they won’t be finding many deals out there. Video game deals are at their best in November and December. The only glimmer of hope would be to shop Walmart’s frequent video game bundle deals or Amazon’s video game deal of the day.
Not a Deal: Sunglasses
People need shades in June, but if they haven’t thought ahead and bought them before the season starts, they’re going to pay more than they might have otherwise. The best options if you forgot to stock up or lost a pair and need to resupply is a discount site like 6pm.com or Oakley Vault.
Not a Deal: Summer Shoes
It’s not really seasonal demand that disrupts the discounting of sandals and sneakers during the summer, it’s a Web thing. Shoes are now on sale on discount sites on the Internet all year long. Not only do sites like Zappos and Amazon stock major brands, but secondary discounters like 6pm and Shoebacca then take what’s left over and mark it down even more. The only specific major retail sales on shoes you might find are at Nordstom’s Half-Yearly Sales.