Have you heard it yet? The holiday tunes gleefully playing in stores that are already displaying Christmas trees and luring shoppers in with sales? Sure, it’s only October, but this month alone there’s Target’s “Deal Days,” Walmart’s “Rollbacks and More” and Amazon’s Prime Day-like event. And soon we’ll be hit with way-too-early Black Friday promos.
All these sales can be confusing and make shopping challenging, but retail analysts and researchers offer these tips for shopping smart and knowing when and what to buy:
- Check the price history - Some people see a promotion and assume it means a big drop in price, so they start buying without finding out the true typical price. And since some stores actually raise prices on a product before putting it on “sale,” it pays to do your research. Consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky notes, “Just because it’s a sale doesn’t mean it’s a good sale.” He and other experts recommend using Camel Camel Camel or Honey, free browser extensions that show price histories on Amazon and let shoppers set price-drop alerts so they can know what’s actually a deal.
- Wait on clothing - If you can hold off, you’re more likely to find a better deal. Ashok Lalwani, a professor of marketing at Indiana University who studies pricing, explains that winter gear gets cheaper later in the season.
- Buy electronics and toys around Black Friday - Retailers have trained consumers to look for deep discounts on TVs, video game consoles, laptops and other electronics on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so if they don’t offer strong savings on those days, shoppers will be disappointed and may not return in future years.
- Watch the price after you buy - You may still be able to score a discount after you buy a product. Track prices online and if the item goes below the amount you paid, some retailers will refund the difference, Dworsky says. Some major stores have extended their holiday price match policies to cover a longer time period, so watching for price drops - even after you buy - could help you save.