When to Score Deals on Tech
Here, four ways to save on electronics and technology.
Strategy 1: Shop the seasonal sales
It sometimes seems like retailers hold promotions on a whim, but some items typically go on sale at certain times of the year. It isn’t difficult to figure out when — sites like Consumer Reports and About.com’s Frugal Living section have compiled consumer calendars for such a purpose.
While different calendars don’t always agree, here are some general guidelines on when to look for deals:
January: computers, electronics, cameras, TVs.
February: TVs (think Super Bowl parties).
July: camcorders and computers (before back-to-school season hits).
September: digital cameras, small consumer electronics.
October: electronics, computers, digital cameras.
November: camcorders, TVs, GPS.
December: electronics, computers, GPS, camcorders, TVs. (Christmas and Boxing Day sales account for some of the deals, but many retailers want to clear out stock before end of year inventory.)
Strategy 2: Wait for annual sales and special events
It takes a lot of time, planning and coordination to pull off a major promotion — that’s why many companies save themselves some hassle and hold sales at a certain time each year. These sales might tie into a particular theme, or capitalize on well-known holidays and events. For example, you often see sales on technology and electronics during:
– Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
– Back to school. (Be warned: some deals require proof that you’re a student or a teacher to score the discounts.)
– Black Friday and Cyber Monday. (In recent years, Canadian companies have adopted this tradition in order to keep shoppers close to home.)
– Boxing Day.
Strategy 3: Wait until a new product is launched
Unless there’s a good reason to be an early adopter, you can expect to pay a premium for buying the latest and greatest gadget. Companies don’t have to entice customers with discounts — they’ll line up around the block to get one.
If you’re looking for a particular product (such as an iPhone or a Kindle e-reader), you’ll have better luck if you want until a new product is released — and buy the older model. The reason is fairly simple: there’s only so much display space, so it’s out with the old and in with the new. Sometimes the updates between models aren’t features you’d need or use anyway.
How can you tell when a new product is going to hit the shelves? With some companies (including Apple and Microsoft) product announcements are major events. Tech blogs and magazines often have the scoop on when new models will be arriving and what new features to expect. Some companies have regular times of year when they release new items — like right before the holiday season. Smart phones, computers and tablets are all hot items right now, but with a little digging you can find out when other products will hit shelves too.
The benefit: A predictable price reduction — often on items that don’t go on sale frequently. If there are physical changes like size and shape, you can also score deals on accessories such as cases. Also, if you’re looking to buy used, it’s the time early adopters are selling their old stuff.
Strategy 4: Set up sales alerts
Confused yet? You don’t have to scour the sales fliers and tech blogs to keep tabs on the sales. More companies such as Best Buy are getting wise to sales alerts. You set up an account and find products you want to keep an eye on, then the system automatically emails you when there’s a price reduction or when an item reaches your target price.
Price comparison websites are also getting in on the act, which let users search or browse for products they’re interested in. The sites then tell you whether to “wait” or “buy” based on a number of factors, including anticipated product releases.
The benefit: Alerts spare you the guess work and a lot of the research. You simply research a product you’re interested in and set the limits. You don’t have to buy from a particular store — some retailers may match the price.
The catch: You need to make up your mind — sales alerts require that you have a specific product or products in mind. Most alerts won’t tell you about new items, nor can they tell you if you’re getting the best price.