NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Finding the best deal on a product often comes down to timing. Seasonal retail trends mean that some products are simply less expensive depending on what time of the year you buy them – electronics, for instance, tend to cost less in January and February when retailers look to clear out last year’s models. And sometimes it even matters what day of the month you buy something, with most experts recommending that you visit the car dealership at the end of the month to take advantage of salespeople trying to hit their quotas.
Believe it or not, prices can even fluctuate during the course of the day. While those fluctuations aren’t as great as you might see from season to season, certain times of the day are indeed better for finding the best deals.
“I go [to stores] during the least busy time of the day, because I want to have a chance to ask for a deal,” says Teri Gault of TheGroceryGame.com, who has previously shared her haggling tips with MainStreet. “I stay away from after-work times and weekends. Go in the mornings, though not first thing because they might be grouchy. If they open at 9, I come in from 10-11.”
If you don’t mind haggling, then coming in during these quiet periods will give you more of an opportunity to negotiate with salespeople or managers.
Gault says that the calculus changes a bit when it comes to getting deals on groceries. Here, the objective is to snag the slightly older (but still fresh) meat and baked goods that are priced to move, and that means getting there bright and early.
“Meat is the most expensive thing in the supermarket, so to get it cheaper, we want to get the ones they marked down that morning,” she says, noting that beef and pork are required to be safe to eat for three to five days beyond the sell-by date. “In the bakery they’re more sporadic, but usually in the morning they get around to [marking down older goods].” She adds that the one exception to the early-bird-catches-the-worm rule is at farmer’s markets, where vendors will price their goods to move at the end of the day so they won’t have to haul it away.
That covers bricks-and-mortar retail. Online deals are a little less time-sensitive (most daily deals, for instance, will run from midnight to midnight), but there are still some rules to follow.