What to Buy (and Skip) in October 2023

Tommy Tindall
Laura McMullen
By Laura McMullen and  Tommy Tindall 
Edited by Kirsten VerHaar

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Retail seasons can be as predictable as the pumpkin-spice lattes now available at most cafes. The National Retail Federation predicts another record year of Halloween spending

National Retail Federation. Retail Holiday and Seasonal Trends Halloween. Accessed Sep 28, 2023.
. And Amazon is back with another October Prime Day-like sales event. Bargain shoppers will want to check out Prime Big Deal Days on Oct. 10-11.

We’ve highlighted a couple product categories to keep an eye on this month.

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 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. Leftover deck essentials like outdoor furniture and grills are likely to be marked down. While you’re upgrading your yard, Huddleston suggests checking out garden centers early in the month for deals on perennials.

Skip: Most electronics

Save major spending on electronics for Black Friday (Nov. 24) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 27). 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.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Amazon, Target, Walmart and Best Buy have made holiday sales in October a regular thing. Some electronics — such as Amazon’s Kindle and Echo devices — may be at or near Black Friday prices.

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.”)

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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 and social accounts..