Guest Author - Reshma Vyas
Summer is all about lazy days at the beach or a nearby lake or perhaps, just simply relaxing in a hammock right in your own backyard. For consumers who are busily searching for ways to save money, it is an ideal time to take advantage of summer clearance sales. In order to effectively maximize the buying opportunities as well as the savings potential of summer clearance sales, one should carefully consider the following:
• What you would like to accomplish this summer? Are you planning a camping trip? Do you plan to vacation at a trendy beach resort and need to purchase new swimwear? What about recreational activities you would like to pursue this season (e.g., art classes, fishing, hiking, rollerblading and water skiing)?
• Plan purchases not only for the summer but for future needs as well.
• The last few weeks of summer move at an especially frenetic pace. Shop early for core back-to-school supplies. You may be able to pick up a wide range of educational aids and materials. Stock up and save on binders, construction paper, drawing and easel pads, folders, markers, notebooks, pens, pencils, small electronics and stationary.
• Home office supplies and equipment. Look for seasonal discounts and sales on items of interest including business forms, desks, file cabinets, furniture and office machines such as shredders.
• Get a jumpstart on gift-buying. Summer clearance sales encompass a wide range of merchandise suitable for holidays and special occasions (e.g., anniversaries, birthdays, grab bag gift exchanges and showers; small items that you can load up on and utilize as stocking stuffers).
• Seasonal items for house and home which cover a wide range of categories: appliances, grills and outdoor cooking equipment and accessories, home décor, gardening and landscaping supplies, patio and outdoor furnishings. Do you have any home improvement or home decorating projects that you would like to do?
• Art, craft and hobby supplies.
• Any changes that you want to make in terms of your lifestyle (e.g., do you want to begin a fitness regimen and need to purchase exercise equipment and workout clothes?).
• Purchase items specifically for children (e.g., apparel, arts and crafts materials, outdoor furniture and playsets, shoes, sports equipment and toys)
Finding Clearance Specials
Begin your search online by checking your favorite retailers and vendors including department stores, discount and specialty chains. Most of the websites will feature a clearance section consisting of various categories such as automotive, electronics, home décor, home office and media, kitchen, lawn and garden. The clearance section on the website may also contain additional, separate categories of merchandise that are substantially marked down (e.g., 50% or 75% off). Depending on the retailer, there may also be a “bargain bin” that features items selling for $9.99 or less.
1. Look for free shipping offers from “trusted” retailers and vendors. The “free” or “reduced” shipping offer may, however, be contingent on specific terms and conditions (e.g., one must purchase a minimum of $50 worth of merchandise; costs for gift wrapping and taxes are not included as part of the total minimum purchase amount; the offer is not available in all states; it applies to only certain products; size and weight restrictions as well as various other exclusions may apply). One should carefully review the terms and conditions for any promotion or offer.
2. Use promotional codes and coupons whenever possible. Websites that may be of interest are couponcabin.com and couponmountain.com among others. Review each website’s policy regarding privacy, terms and conditions.
3. Online promotions vary widely among vendors. The particular sale may be subject to an expiration date. In some cases, the item can be purchased only online and will not be available in stores. Review the store’s refund policy.
4. Sign-up to receive email alerts from your favorite retailers and vendors. The email update may also include notifications of new merchandise, coupons, promotions, and weekly circulars.
1. Create a price book categorized by interest (e.g., home office, patio furniture and sportswear) as it can enable you to more efficiently track prices among various vendors. One website that is helpful is bizrate.com.
2. Establish a budget for your summer clearance shopping. One should also determine a fixed dollar amount for credit card and cash purchases. Make a preliminary calculation of your total costs before you go shopping.
3. Buy closeouts whenever possible.
4. Take all circulars, relevant coupons and rebates when you go shopping.
5. Use the store’s credit card for extra savings (if applicable). Check the store’s refund policy regarding clearance purchases.
For informational purposes and not intended as advice.