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Best time to shop -- fall bargains

Fall

Big appliances
Just like the fall clothing influx, new models of major appliances such as ranges and washing machines hit showroom floors in September and October, says Diane Ritchey, editor of Home Appliance magazine. At about the same time, last year's models go on sale to make room.

"Critical timing and seeing the patterns of the retail world can make a huge difference in appliance shopping," says Ritchey.

Cars
New model years begin appearing at dealerships in the fall, making September an ideal time to snatch up the previous year's model at a discount. By the end of the year, inventory dwindles, so acting earlier assures a determined buyer of the best selection.

Another tip for buying a new car: "Monitor the number of days that a truck or car sits on a lot. Anytime a car or truck isn't selling well you can get a good deal," says Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor for Edmunds.com and co-author of "Strategies for Smart Car Buyers."

Shop on a weekday to get the undivided attention of the sales staff, and go at the end of the month when they're trying to make quotas. Be sure to go early in the morning or early in the afternoon and show up well-rested and with a full belly.

"You don't want to be hungry or tired," says Reed. He also recommends using the Internet department to broker the deal. You'll save money and skip the high-pressure negotiations in the finance and insurance office.

"Often the person who delivers the car to you isn't even a salesman, but a porter. You just sign the papers and it's done," says Reed.

Recreational vehicles (RVs)
The market for recreational vehicles works somewhat like that of autos. "The model years change over like cars, so there is some special availability of the previous year's product during the fall," says Phil Ingrassia, vice president of communications for the Recreation Vehicle Dealers of America. Throughout the winter there may be some show specials that dealers offer or other incentives to entice people to buy.

Tires and auto supplies
"The first is in April, which is National Car Care Month. Then in fall, specifically October, we have Fall Car Care Month," says Lauren Fix, host of DIY Network's "Talk2DIY Automotive."

"During April and October you can find promotions such as buy three tires, get one free. Or maybe they'll offer free roadside hazard warnings. Also, depending on the time of year, you can find things such as free oil changes at certain service places or a free checkup of liquids and vital systems at no charge in order to make you safer on the road," says Fix.

The Car Care Council established both months to increase awareness of car maintenance in preparation for summer and winter. "The Car Care Council found over $62 billion in undone maintenance in cars on the road today. Nine out of 10 vehicles that are on the road today have something wrong with them," Fix says.  

Toys
Retailers open up the toy chest in October and November to kick-start their money-making season, says Reyne Rice, toy trend specialist of the Toy Industry Association. "This is the time of year for games and puzzles," she says. "Retailers will usually do a buy one, get one free promotion."

If you're buying a gift for someone, the important thing to consider is whether it's appropriate for the recipient, rather than its status as the hottest new item. "It's more important to buy something that they'll love," Rice says.

Other bargains in fall
Baking goods, canned soup, canned vegetables like beans and tomatoes, carpet and flooring, chrysanthemums, dahlias, ilex or holly and zinnias.

Also:   Month-by-month

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