Labor Day weekend marked the unofficial end of summer. Most, if not all, kids are back in school now and the days are going to slowly start getting shorter. On the plus side, football season has returned with a vengeance, the air will turn brisk (justifying the super early release of Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte), the leaves will turn magnificent shades of red and orange and all of my favorite holidays are just around the corner.
Once the calendar turns to September, we have officially entered the busiest shopping season of the year. Yes, it lasts four months now. Here is what you can expect over the coming months when it comes to scoping out the deals and discounts on whatever it is that may be on your shopping list.
I actually have not been to a large boxed store in a couple of weeks, but chances are stores are already pulling out all of their Halloween gear. Halloween is still nearly two months away but that does not mean people have not already begun shopping for the perfect costume and will continue to do so for the next eight weeks.
If you want to save big on Halloween gear, however, whether for yourself or the little ones, wait to purchase those costumes until the final week before Halloween when everything will go on steep discount. Waiting does include the risk of the stores selling out of some particular costumes, but the longer you wait, the steeper the discounts will be. Stores do not want to hold onto leftover Halloween costumes, and they really do not serve much of a purpose once October 31 has come and gone.
Veterans Day falls on November 11 this year, and that long weekend is really when I encourage people to begin their holiday shopping. Along with Labor Day weekend, which just passed, stores tend to offer some of their steepest discounts around Veterans Day. My theory for why this occurs is because stores want to get a head start on beefing up their fourth quarter profits. Pretty much everyone is going to shop on Black Friday, but not as many people know that the deals are just as good -- if not better -- on Veterans Day!
In addition to the shopping deals that are available for all of us, I would be remiss not to mention that the veterans being honored on Veterans Day can also enjoy myriad free meals and special store discounts over that long weekend. Military.com has one of the best lists of Veterans Day discounts that I have found.
Black Friday is, of course, the granddaddy of budget shopping days each year with nearly every store out there offering some sort of sale or discount. Over the years I have found that Black Friday is really the day for those who prefer to do their shopping in-store, as the doorbuster offers (and opportunities to hit the stores in the middle of the night) are what really makes this shopping day unique.
Small Business Saturday:
Small Business Saturday launched a few years ago as an initiative to get people out to their smaller neighborhood stores that cannot really compete with the craziness of Black Friday.
Here is a tip as you plan out your holiday shopping strategy this year: If you can resist the allure of Black Friday and do your shopping online on Cyber Monday (this year it falls on December 1), you will actually see many stores increase the discounts they offered on Black Friday anywhere from 10 to 20 percent. Cyber Monday is really the last big organized holiday shopping day of the season and the stores want to encourage you to spend as much as possible, hence the additional savings.
The Day After Christmas:
For those willing to stock up for future holidays and occasions, the day after Christmas also tends to offer amazing deals and discounts on pretty much everything. It is a wonderful time to stock up on Christmas decorations and wrapping paper, as well as any other Christmas-themed items (for instance, many big box stores offer their own lines of stocking stuffers and small Christmas gifts). Somewhat surprisingly, it is also a good time to purchase any needed winter clothing, as stores will soon be clearing out their winter items to make way for spring!
Many people are understandably weary about the prospect of facing the stores again at the tail end of the holiday season, but for those who like to plan ahead the deals can make the trip worthwhile!
Lisa Koivu is the founder of ShopGirlDaily.com, a budget fashion and shopping blog for women who want to have the best for less.