Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Cheapest Times to Shop and Save

Over the last few days, friends and business contacts have gifted me with advice about finding the best times to shop and save. Basically, some days of the week are best for scoring deals on airline tickets, books and other items.

For instance, managers of some of my favorite stores have shared their markdown schedule with me. At Marshalls, a manager told me that she marks down merchandise every Thursday. So when I was interested in a pair of shoes, housewares or other merchandise, I would show up on Thursday to see if the item had a red-ticket discount.

Likewise, an assistant manager at Ann Taylor Loft once told me that Friday was her day for receiving marked-down items.

Here's a great article from SmartMoney.com about the best times to buy stuff. This is a very short summary:

Best time to buy airline tickets: Wednesday

Best time to buy books: Thursdays at Borders; Tuesdays at Barnes & Nobles.

Best time to buy cars: Mondays

I use a simple fact-finding approach for finding out the best days to shop.

1) Get to know the sales people.

2) Ask about upcoming sales or markdowns. Some will shrug and say nothing, but others will offer tips. An employee at Payless shoes once tell me to wait a few days, because a sale was pending. I waited and saved.

3) Study the promotional schedule for the distribution of store flyers and discount coupons. CVS and Walgreens have sales that run Sunday through Saturday. But some of the grocery stores and organic food chains work with a mid-week schedule.

4) Go early. Sometimes items are marked down the night before a sale, according to a report I read in a recent magazine.

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