What Bargain Hunters Should Buy in September

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Summer is over, and that’s not a bad thing if you’re looking for hot shopping deals. June, July and August are actually among the worst months of the year to find great sales.

In September, though, retailers work harder to get shoppers into stores, with the hope that they’ll also return later in the year to do some of their Christmas shopping. September is also a month when shoppers – for a variety of reasons – are in a better position to negotiate and save money on big and small purchases alike.

We’ll start with a big one, and move on to less pricey purchases you should consider making this month:

New cars. Most 2013 model year cars have been delivered to car lots by September, and this is the month when car dealers start working hard to make room for them by getting rid of the older models. The good thing for new car buyers is the “old ones” are 2012 models. They might be considered a year old by car dealership standards, but they should be brand new, with fewer than 100 miles on their odometers. Many of the 2012 models can be had for at least 10 percent less in September – and the discounts grow more substantial as the year wears on. On the other hand, if you wait too long, the lots could be well picked over and selection is likely to be limited.

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Cars (again). Don’t want to buy? Lease prices tend to be lower in September than in any other month. The beginning of the model year, usually September, is when banks estimate the value of the vehicles, and the highest residual values usually occur in September. The higher the residual value, the lower the lease price. If you wait just a few months – say, until January — the value will dip and your lease will cost you more.

Jewelry. The prime gift-giving months of the year are February (Valentine’s Day), May (Mother’s Day), June (graduations, weddings and Father’s Day) and October, November and December (Christmas), when jewelers know you’re eager to buy, making them less eager to negotiate. September is one of the six non-gift-giving months, when shoppers often see the lowest prices and are in the best position to negotiate with jewelers. Why? Jewelry sales tend to slump in September – and in the other non-gift-giving months (January, March, April, July, August) – and jewelers are more eager to wheel and deal.

Summer stuff. Everything from sunscreen and swimsuits to grills and outdoor furniture are 40 percent off or more in September. Home improvement and department stores are especially eager to sell large items, which they don’t want to store or ship. Word to the wise about one small item, though: Before you buy sunscreen, check out the expiration date. Sunscreen is actually made about two years before the expiration date. By the expiration date, sunscreen is less effective because its ingredients have begun to separate.

Back-to-school stuff. Most people shop for school supplies in August, but if you can wait until September, you’re more likely to see good sales, particularly on things that didn’t sell as well as retailers expected. That sometimes includes clothes as well as notebooks and pens.

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Bushes and plants. Garden centers look to dump many varieties of plants just before and after Labor Day, as the weather cools and fewer people want to work in their yards — or care as much about how their yards look. Expect buy-one-get-one-free sales and other great deals on plants in September, especially at big-box retailers and warehouse stores.

Ranges and stoves. Retailers discount them during holiday weekends throughout the year and in September, when new models arrive in stores and year-old models, which are also new, are discounted 20% to 30%.

Produce. Every month, including in the winter, there are several fruits and vegetables in season, and September is no exception. Buying produce in season makes sense because the flavors are at their peak, and the prices usually are lower. In-season produce is more plentiful, and grocers want to sell it before it goes bad, so prices tend to be lower. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, here are several fruits and vegetables that are in-season in September: apples, berries, cantaloupes, honey melons, nectarines, peaches, plums, cauliflower, corn, eggplants, peppers and spinach.

Long-time journalist Mark Di Vincenzo wrote The New York Times best-seller Buy Ketchup In May And Fly At Noon: A Guide To The Best Time To Buy This, Do That And Go There. This month he released an app based on that book called WHEN; and an all-new, second edition on the best time to buy things, called Buy Shoes On Wednesday And Tweet At 4:00: More Of The Best Times To Buy This, Do That And Go There, will be released on Sept. 11.