Seasonal Sales v Lay Away: Which Is Right When

Springtime or summertime is the usual periods that people look to buy outdoor things – camping equipment, new fishing gear, lawn care items, patio furniture and the like. Autumn reflects high interest in snow-clearing equipment, blankets, heavy coats and other related items. Logic would dictate that those times are the best times to buy those items because that’s when styles are new and current. However, following pre-season sales don’t always save you the most. When is the right time to buy certain items, and when is lay-away the better option?

Seasonal Splurge v Long-Term Payment

Seasonal splurges are defined as one-payment purchases according to season. As attractive as they may seem, you don’t always pay less in seasonal purchasing splurges even when you save for it.

Lay-Away is an any-time purchase of any eligible item. You purchase the item on timed credit with the store, and the item remains reserved for you off the store shelves until you meet the purchase price. Because this is a type of in-house financing option – a store loan if you will, you generally pay interest on the purchase price balance. Paying this and any type of loan in advance always saves you money over the loan term.

When to Buy What

Certain items are traditionally sold to expectant markets. Rest assured that most retailers take full advantage of the “right now” interest in seasonal sales. If you know that you will need or want new items as the seasons change, shop in advance to take advantage of the payment type that suits your budget.

Seasonal splurges are prompted by ads that promise savings and discounts just ahead of the appropriate season. As noted above, Spring and Summer are traditional outdoor purchase times, but those are not the cheapest times of the year. January and February usually present better prices on outdoor items, along with exercise equipment, linens, homes and condominiums. Those mid-winter sales means less overstock just lying around, taking up space. Retailers want to clear that space before the next season’s goods arrive in just a few months.

Late Winter and very early Spring are the best times to buy carpeting, winter sports gear, cookware and lawn equipment.

May and June hold true to the outdoor gear splurge time if you buy from the very first shipment that comes in. Retailers love to take advantage of that wish for warmer temperatures and the post-winter “itch” to get outside. As late as two to three weeks into the increasing temperature season, however, base retail prices start inching upward, so discounts may be the same percentage, but you pay more on that 10-percent off $15 instead of 10-percent off $10, for example.

Electronic items, such as MP3, digital cameras, mobile phones and other electronic entertainment goods are often cheaper during May and June. Manufacturers usually release new models semi-annually or quarterly, so catching a sale just before a new release is ordinarily gentle on your budget.

Post-Seasonal Sales

As cooler temperatures approach, buy outdoor equipment and high-end electronic goods. Post-graduation periods call for clearing shelves for new releases, so September and October – before Christmas sales in November – are excellent months for warm-weather gear and other goods, including plants.

In November and December, look for home appliances, including television sets, as manufacturers, and therefore, retailers, want to clear space for new models appearing in the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Determine by which you can save more: Can you better afford planned purchases with seasonal splurges, or would your long-term budget fair better with buying that new smartphone on lay-away, a store loan with interest?

Written by Jaye Ryan, a freelance writer who loves writing about budgeting and shopping tips for Octopus Loans.