October is here, and in between sipping pumpkin-flavored drinks and carefully planning the perfect costume for an upcoming Halloween party, you'll be doing a bit of shopping. So we've mined the extensive dealnews archives of sales, coupons, and individual products from the past few seasons to guide you in your quest for the most savvy purchases in October. Here’s what we found.
Halloween Items: Sure, the best time to buy a Halloween costume starts November 1. But what good will that do you unless you're extremely sure you still want to be Dr. Who next year for Halloween? (OK, bad example. That costume is timeless.) Still, you'll see substantial sales on costumes the week before the holiday, with numerous stores also offering stacking coupons to sweeten the deal. Last year, we saw moderate sales from the likes of BuyCostumes, Costume Craze, Toys "R" Us, and Diapers.com, and they got even stronger in the days leading up to the holiday itself. Of course, don't wait too long, otherwise you'll have to deal with expensive expedited shipping just to receive your getup in time.
If you're worried about waiting until mid-month, there are ways to score big discounts early this month. Last year we saw several deal-a-day sites (Groupon, BuyWithMe, and KGB Deals) offer credits for costume shops up until the middle of the month.
Just like costumes, Halloween decorations will go on deep discount immediately after the holiday. Unless you fear that you'll grow sick of the standard witches and broomsticks, you could easily stock up on cheap decorations now and store them for next year. Expect discounts of 50% to 90% off themed items.
Pumpkins: Along the east coast, flooding from last month's Hurricane Irene damaged many pumpkin patches, so prices on the seasonal gourd may be above average this October. Several media outlets are reporting that pumpkin prices could be almost double the norm. That said, your kids may not let you get away with saving money by forgoing this holiday staple. So instead of carving the pumpkins, try painting them so you can roast them later and freeze the purée for Thanksgiving.
Cold Weather Apparel: Although you may already be experiencing chilly weather in your area and winter apparel seems like a savvy investment, the sharpest discounts on cold weather items won't come until January. If you just can't wait until after the New Year, you should at least try holding out until November. Around Black Friday, a wealth of apparel retailers will offer their best coupon of the year, which may take a full 40% off or more. That said, last year there were still some noteworthy discounts for current-season items at the end of the month from retailers such as Old Navy, Lands' End, Banana Republic, Levi's, PacSun, and more.
Denim: While September is a good time to find discounts on denim, so too is October, as retailers continue to try to move the styles they'd hoped to sell during Back to School season. Some jean specialists, like 7 for All Mankind and Levi's, offered their best coupons of the year — up to that point. Levi's then offered an even better discount later during the Black Friday onslaught of apparel coupons (see our section on cold weather apparel). And though there were moderate sales on jeans from broad retailers like Shop Ecko, Lucky, Aeropostale, and Gap, you're likely to see those retailers tender their best coupons during Black Friday, which will stack with any remaining jeans in the sale section.
Lingerie: In October of last year, dealnews saw an uptick in the number of women's intimates deals, which further picked up steam through November and December. We saw panties for as low as $2 shipped from Kohl's, and bras for as low as $5. Moreover, Frederick's of Hollywood — that purveyor of risqué intimate apparel — offered its best extra discount ever with a full 50% off sale items. The same is true of aerie by American Eagle. That said, we also saw numerous Editors' Choice-level deals for intimates from these sellers, as well as Victoria's Secret in November and early December.
Toys: Toys "R" Us recently released its Fabulous 15 list of the must-have toys for the holiday season, and your kids may be already spouting off the names of toys they absolutely need. The temptation may thus arise to shop early and get it over with, but cool your engines, parents. Take note of what they want now, and wait until December to start seeing notable price drops. You might even get lucky and find that the toy du jour is amid one of the price wars we saw between Walmart and Amazon last year.
Garden Items: Although we saw more deals on discounted garden items in September of last year, October brought stronger markdowns. Several patio sets and gardening items from Sears, Amazon, and other merchants hit their lowest prices in October, as they were available for significantly less than we had seen them at over the summer. If you've got a green thumb or if you're looking to replace your patio set for next summer, now is a good time to buy.
HDTVs: If you've been waiting for prices on TVs to drop, you're patience is about to be rewarded. Black Friday is just weeks away, and if last year is any indication, October could see some aggressive deals. 55" LCD HDTVs, in particular, began their price descent in October, eventually reaching their low point in December. 42" LCD HDTVs on the other hand saw a small price increase in October; a sign that November and December are really the prime months for TV shopping. So while you will see solid deals in October, try to hold off a few more weeks for the real doorbusters.
Laptops: Power on. Last year, October proved to be the fourth best month to purchase a mainstream 15" laptop. While that's not too shabby, we'd recommend waiting those extra weeks until November arrives; our archives show that November was the best month of the year to purchase from all laptop categories in 2010 (with the exception of ultraportables which reached their lowest point in December). Various laptop manufacturers are also poised to announce new ultrabook laptops in October, which could potentially lower the price of current thin and light-weight models for November.
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