shoppingcolumnThe Monroe on a Budget column runs Tuesdays in The Monroe News. Here is this week’s installment.

By Paula Wethington

Many bargain and couponing sites include lists called “The Best Time of Year To Buy Everything,” intended to help shoppers save money.

But those lists sometimes are outdated. I’ve noticed traditional shopping seasons shifting in recent years as retailers compete fiercely for consumers.

It’s also fair to point out that the “best time” to buy something might be when the best selections coincide with competitive prices instead of waiting for picked-over merchandise and so-called clearanced prices.

Here’s the Monroe on a Budget list of “best time to buy” for selected items based on what I’ve noticed in recent years:

  • January: Diet-friendly foods have a short-lived sale season to complement New Year’s health resolutions.
  • January: Office supplies and organizational products to coincide with “get organized” New Year’s resolutions.
  • Early April: You’ll find the best selections, and surprisingly good prices, on baseball-themed attire and gift items.
  • Two weeks before Easter: Stockup prices are in effect on pantry staples such as cake mix and canned pineapple, along with ham and other meats. There also is a spring toy sale season.
  • Late May: You’ll find the best selections of the year on patriotic celebration decor such as American flags and paper goods.
  • Just before Memorial Day to just before Labor Day: Camping, graduation party, picnic and barbecue season takes over the grocery promotions at the supermarkets. Don’t wait too late for clearance sales in the sporting goods departments, as summer clearance sales start as early as July.
  • Late May to early October: Farmer’s markets will be open in southeastern Michigan and you’ll notice produce savings at the supermarkets as harvest season begins.
  • July 5 to early August: Back-to-school promotions start after July 4 on backpacks, classroom supplies and school uniforms.
  • Mid-August to early September: You’ll find the best selections of the year for professional and college football team attire just before the season begins.
  • Late August to early September: Kid-friendly foods such as breakfast cereal, peanut butter, lunch-box foods and snacks trend up for about three to four weeks.
  • September to early October: First aid supplies, fire alarms and other disaster preparedness supplies are heavily promoted during  National Emergency Preparedness Month and National Fire Prevention Week.
  • First week of November: After-Halloween prices on candy bars lately have been no better than the sales that were offered during the season. The clearance deals actually are best on costumes and decor.
  • Early November to late December: Black Friday is not the only option. Holiday sales start in early November and last almost right up to Christmas.
  • November and December: Supermarket promotions just before Thanksgiving and Christmas feature pantry staples such as spices in addition to turkey, ham and other meats — a great time to stock up for well into the winter. You’ll also find competitive prices on hostess and kitchen supplies such as slow cookers.
  • Mid-December: The conventional wisdom is that wrapping paper and greeting cards go on sale Dec. 26, but I’ve actually noticed those items on clearance the week before Christmas.

Readers may contact Paula Wethington at or (734) 240-5745.

 If you are interested in budget-friendly living in southeast Michigan, subscribe to the Monroe on a Budget weekly newsletter; read my column every Tuesday in The Monroe News; or follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.


What have you noticed lately about the “best time to buy” something? Tell us in the comment section.

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