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Retail seasons can be as predictable as the pumpkin-spice lattes now available at most cafes. And despite a run of rising prices, the National Retail Federation predicts a record year for spending on Halloween this October.
Given the state of inflation, the deals this month may not be scary-good, but we’ve highlighted a couple categories to keep an eye on.
Buy: Winter outerwear
Around this time of year, you’ll likely see the earliest sales on coats, hats and gloves, says Patricia Huddleston, professor of retailing at Michigan State University. Retailers know that many shoppers may still be enjoying relatively warm weather in October, she points out. So these sales are meant to get customers who are sporting T-shirts to start thinking about buying parkas.
Skip: Other clothing
While this is the time to upgrade your coat, you're better off skipping other types of clothing purchases if you can hold off a couple of months. “The markdowns are best around the holiday season and after Christmas,” Huddleston says.
At that point, she says most winter apparel, including tops and bottoms, will be discounted to make way for spring inventory. In case you missed the October sales, Huddleston adds that coats, hats and boots will likely go back on sale for the same reason. The one exception to end-of-year sales may be formalwear that could be worn for New Year’s Eve parties, she says.
Buy: Outdoor furniture and grills
Expect major markdowns on summer inventory that retailers are desperately trying to offload. Specifically, Huddleston recommends searching for sales on outdoor furniture and grills.
While you’re already upgrading your yard, Huddleston suggests checking out garden centers early in the month for deals on perennials.
Save major spending on electronics for Black Friday (Nov. 25). That’s when you typically see the heftiest discounts on TVs, gaming consoles, laptops, tablets, smartphones and activity trackers. These savings can add up to hundreds of dollars.
Buy: Halloween gear
The closer to Halloween, the steeper discounts will be on costumes, Huddleston says, because retailers want to get rid of as much of their stock as possible by Oct. 31. The same goes for Halloween-themed candy, she adds. (For both, she says: “Of course, your best deals are going to be on Nov. 1.”)
Do consider the potential risk of delayed timing and limited stock, given the state of the economy since COVID began. That goes for costumes and candy. The Hershey Company warned in July that it may not be able to meet seasonal demand for sweets due to a shortage of key candy ingredients. So, it may not pay to wait in some cases.
Bonus: Tacos and desserts
October also comes with two food holidays to look forward to. National Taco Day is Oct. 4, and National Dessert Day is Oct. 14.
In years past, many local and national restaurants have offered discounts for just these occasions. Look for promotional signage at your local taco joints, bakeries and other restaurants. Also check for deals on these restaurants’ websites, as well as their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.