There's a best time to buy just about anything, but knowing which product will go on sale at what time isn't always easy. Here's a list of general shopping guidelines that can apply to most things you'll buy so you can figure out the best time — or at least a good time — to purchase almost anything.
Below are tips for great times to shop.
While shopping at a brick-and-mortar store on a Thursday afternoon or evening isn't a guarantee of a bargain every time, it is a good bet, says Kristen Regine, a marketing professor at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.
"Thursday is an important day for consumers to know because that's when stores take markdowns," Regine says. "They're prepping for the weekend. They know they're going to get the most foot traffic on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays."
Expect big deals on weekends leading up to holidays, says Darrin Duber-Smith, a senior marketing lecturer at Metropolitan State University of Denver. That can apply to a wide array of products, but particularly big-ticket items like cars. "A three-day weekend is always great for buying," Duber-Smith says.
Popular sale weekends include Presidents Day in February, Memorial Day in May and Labor Day in September.
A key to shopping is buying products when retailers are liquidating them and moving them to the clearance rack. For example, furniture is typically restocked twice a year — February and August — Duber-Smith says. That means older furniture styles are usually on sale in January and July.
Always check the clearance rack. And while you're at it, pay attention to colors. Regine says some clothing retailers mark down items according to color, rather than by category. For example, you may find a bunch of blue or purple apparel on clearance if the color didn't sell well.
Same time as last year
If you can't remember when these types of sale events will roll around, the deals retailers have hosted in the past are usually a good indication. Regine points out that Sephora has a big makeup sale each May, Old Navy has a flip-flop sale each June and Amazon hosts its Prime Day sale in July.
To learn about these sales, Regine suggests asking a store sales associate about current and upcoming promotions. Keep old retail emails in your inbox so you can track sales and anticipate when they'll happen again.
Check your apps
Regine recommends leaning on technology to help you figure out when you should buy something you've been eyeing. To keep track of promotions and deals, she likes apps including Shop It To Me and the Krazy Coupon Lady, both of which will notify you of price drops on items you want.
"Let the apps do the work for you," Regine says.