NEW YORK – Got your heart set on a pre-Christmas shopping expedition? Before you head to the mall, check out Smart Money reporter Kelli B. Grant's guide for autumn bargain hunters:
What to buy in September
Cars: By September, next year's models have already arrived and dealers are so eager to clear out old inventory that they're happy to negotiate with you. Automakers also try to sweeten the pot but offering great cash incentives, reports Grant. Holiday airfare: To get the optimum price without sacrificing convenience, buy tickets for your Christmas holiday in September. Wait until the end of October and you may be forced to settle for higher prices, second tier airports and more layovers. Wine: Last year's harvest begins arriving in stores in September. Because of the surplus of vino, winemakers face heavy competition and bottles tend to be priced to sell.
What to buy in October
Jeans: After the back-to-school rush dies down, retailers slash prices on the previous year's styles to make room for new inventory. Toys: Those targeted at Christmas shoppers start making their debut in September; By October, storekeepers begin making price adjustments to stay competitive with other retailers. This is a good time to shop for the must-have toys that people will be fighting over come Christmas.
What to buy in November
Sneakers: Look to snag fashionable sneakers at cut-rate prices. The back-to-school crowd is all stocked up on sneakers by November and retailers are shifting their focus to winter gear, like boots. Wedding dresses: By November, the wedding season fervor has died down and the next cycle hasn't quite commenced. The result: Empty bridal shops full of salespeople ready to bargain. Good negotiators can save between 15% and 25% on gowns, according to Grant.