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Month-by-month guide for finding sales

Hard as it may be for younger consumers to imagine, there was a time not that long ago when retailers seemed to only give away ice in winter. It was very much a seller's market, and bargains and buys were almost invariably off season and post holiday. If you were looking to buy sale-priced spring finery, for example, you often had to first wait for the weather to sizzle.

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Fortunately, today the consumer is king -- and queen -- with retailers battling rivals by trying to be the first on the block to lure you in (where, it is hoped, you will buy a good deal more than just the sale-priced goodies that serve as bait). While there are always variables that may affect individual store or brand sales-offerings, there are general patterns that I've observed as a longtime shopping columnist in New York City.

Here's my month-to-month guide to the best times for getting the goods without giving up (too much) gold:

January April July October
February May August November
March June September December

Between the Super Bowl and super-specials, January is the time to snag yourself a new TV if yours is on the blink, or to spring for that extra one for the den. And if all that TV viewing makes you drowsy, and you'd like to curl up for a long winter's nap, you'll sleep better on sheets you scored at one of January's vaunted "white sales" on linens, comforters and related items.

  • "White sale" items -- sheets, pillowcases and other bedding accessories
  • Computers
  • Workout and sports gear
  • Blowouts on winter wear: coats, scarves, gloves, hats and boots
  • Televisions

Sweets for your sweet this Valentine's Day? You should have no trouble picking up a sale-priced box of chocolate for your honey -- or for yourself, for that matter. Also, if February has you sick of staring at the same four walls, now's the time to take advantage of traditional Presidents' Day sales of furniture and housewares to update your space.

  • Jewelry
  • Chocolates
  • Fragrance, toiletries
  • Resort and cruise wear
  • Furniture and housewares

Looking forward to the greening of your garden? The good news is that March is the month to find the tools of your trade at tinier prices. If you'd rather just "get out of Dodge," you should be able to pack your traveling clothes in a sales-priced suitcase, thanks to the luggage sales that crop up this month.

  • Windbreakers and raincoats
  • Gardening tools
  • Luggage
  • Frozen foods (It's National Frozen Food Month!)

Ah, just in time. After we do our spring cleaning, a lot of us can't help but notice how less-than-fresh our walls may look compared to the rest of our spiffed-up space. To the rescue: Reduced prices on a variety of paints and wall-coverings. Hope you didn't pay full-price for your Easter bonnet earlier, because now is also a great time to snag a small-priced beauty.

  • Spring finery
  • China
  • Kosher foods
  • Eggs (chocolate and chicken-laid)
  • Wallpaper and paint

Get in the swim without losing your shirt, by partaking of pre-season bargains on bathing suits and related accessories. Planning a big blowout for Memorial Day? Traditional barbecue and picnic fare will lure with special sales -- as will major-appliance holiday sales, designed to get you in-store.

  • Major appliances (Memorial Day weekend)
  • Barbecue and picnic foods
  • Summery handbags and totes
  • Pre-season savings on swimsuits and sandals
-- Posted: May 6, 2005




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