What you shouldn't (and should) buy in March
Want to get the most for your money in March?
Maybe join a gym. And put off buying a vacuum cleaner.
When it comes to sales and deals, March is a mixed bag. You can find great prices on winter goods and frozen food. But warm-weather staples such as barbecue grills and patio furniture, while plentiful, are often at full price.
March is also the month when a lot of winter merchandise hits the clearance table. Don't be afraid to haggle for an even better price, says Andrea Woroch, savings expert with CouponSherpa.com. Especially if there's one left or it looks like they're trying to get it out of the store, ask for a discount, she says.
Looking for some bargains this month? Here are a few items that probably won't be at their best prices -- along with a handful of items that promise some good deals.
What not to buy in March: TVs and appliances
"With the holidays and Super Bowl over, there won't be deals on most TVs in March," says P. Allen Smith, author of "Living in the Garden Home." Same with home appliances. "Everybody gets spring fever and wants to do upgrades in the house," Smith says, "but the best deals on appliances are not in the spring."
When you can expect to save more on appliances: September or October, when new models come out. An exception is vacuum cleaners, which go on sale in April or May, says Sharon Banfield, spokeswoman for PriceGrabber.com. You can get a price break of 25 percent to 30 percent, she says.
But if you have to shop now for a television, there will usually be at least one set marked down, says Augie Grant, professor at the University of South Carolina and editor of "Communication Technology Update and Fundamentals."
"TVs are pervasive enough that there are always TVs on sale," he says. "And the rule is, 'Never buy a TV that isn't on sale.'"
What not to buy in March: Last-minute travel
For most of March, travel is at a premium, says Peter Greenberg, CBS News travel editor and founder of PeterGreenberg.com.
"March is one of those tough months," he says. Between Easter and spring break season, there's basically one good week when you can get a deal. And that week will vary, depending on where you are and where you want to go, he says.
If you target an off-week in March, you stand to save about 30 percent, Greenberg says.
What is on sale in March: Future travel and luggage are on sale.
Book in March for a May cruise to Alaska, Greenberg recommends. "Not only will the ships not be crowded but the shipping lanes won't be crowded. So you won't be showing up in port with nine other ships." Expect to save 20 percent to 30 percent, he says.
Meanwhile, luggage makers want to spur sales in March because ski season is over and summer is months away, Smith says. Many luggage makers will pass along sales and discounts to retailers, he says. Often you can save about 20 percent.
What not to buy in March: Athletic shoes
You might end up paying full price if you buy new athletic shoes in March, Banfield says. But "as spring and warmer weather get closer, they're going to be on sale." When sales do arrive, you can save about 30 percent, she says.
What is on sale in March: Winter sports gear and possibly gym memberships are on sale.
Look for clearance prices of 50 percent to 75 percent off winter sports items, such as snowboarding equipment, ski gear and anything for hockey or ice skating, Banfield says.
"It's significant," Banfield says. "I always go with the spring savings clearance sales. If you buy in the fall, you are so paying top dollar."
Depending on climate, gym memberships could be on sale, too. When warm weather arrives, people exercise outside, Banfield says. If that's happening in your area, look for discounts at gyms of up to 30 percent or 40 percent.
But in some areas, those gym membership savings -- like warmer weather -- will come later in the season, says Smith.
What not to buy in March: Patio furniture
Got the itch to fix up that patio? In March, it'll cost you.
"By March, everything is going to be fresh and definitely at the peak price," Woroch says. You get your pick of the new stuff, but it comes at a premium.
When you can expect to save more on patio furniture: "End of summer," says Woroch, who snagged an outdoor sectional sofa for 30 percent off toward the end of summer. Discounts up to 50 percent are possible, she says.
What is on sale in March: Winter clearance items are on sale.
From snowblowers to snow tires, if it's winter-related and it's still on the shelves in March, you can get a buy.
"And March is a great time to stock up on your winter gear for next year," Woroch says. At online outlet centers, look for markdowns of 25 percent to 30 percent, she says. In stores that are cleaning space for spring and summer, cuts can be closer to 50 percent to 75 percent off.
What not to buy in March: Barbecue grills
"Grills are just coming into the stores" in March, says Daniel Butler, vice president of retail operations for the National Retail Federation. "You will see them, but they won't really be great buys. That will be later in the season."
When you can expect to save on barbecue grills: If price is your prime motivator, wait until August and you can get as much as half off, Butler says.
What is on sale in March: Frozen food is on sale.
Looking to stock your freezer? March is national frozen food month, so expect promotions, specials and coupons, Woroch says: Those 50 cent and $1 off coupons are "not huge, but it adds up."
What not to buy in March: Landscape plants
Plant nurseries are stocked and ready for spring. So while you'll find some loss-leader sales and "buy some, get one free" deals, the real price breaks come in autumn, Smith says.
When you can expect to save more: "They don't want to winter over that inventory," Smith says. So you'll get deals of at least 50 percent off.
What is on sale in March: Garden tools and perfume are on sale.
Garden tools already are being promoted for spring, Woroch says, although discounts aren't huge -- 10 percent to 15 percent.
And spring is the season for new fragrance launches, Butler says. Manufacturers and retailers offer value sets and extras to encourage you to buy the latest scents.
While you may not see sales or discounts, you'll find bargains in the form of larger sizes for the same price or extra products included with your purchase, Butler says.