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Best time to buy

By ninemsn staff
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Air date: Tuesday, September 15, 2009
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Good consumer news amidst the global financial crisis is hard to come by, but the one silver lining in all of it is there’s plenty of cheap deals to be had.

If you're smart about when you do your shopping — whether it's groceries, cars or even holidays – you will save big on time and money.

Here's our guide on grabbing the best deals.

GROCERIES


Dr Sean Sands from the Australian Centre for Retail Studies says avoid the crowds when hitting the supermarket.

"I'd say the best time to go to the supermarket is first thing in the morning, try and get it over and done with before the crowds come in," he says.

But shopping at the end of the day will mean that prices for fruit, vegetables, meat and bread will be substantially cheaper.

One good tip is to look for the bloke in the white coat who's putting on those reduced stickers because that means you'll save.

CARS


John Cadogan from Wheels Magazine recommends trying for a massive discount on a runout model towards the end of the month when salesmen are trying to meet their targets.

"If you can't get ten or 12 grand off plus a bunch of freebies, then you're not trying hard enough."

As new models hit the showroom floors, dealers are keen to clear out old stock. The time of year that this occurs varies according to the model.

Go Auto provides a website with a New Car Diary that tells consumers when each model is due to go on sale in Australia. Once you have decided on the type of car you are interested in, pay close attention to dealership cycles for that vehicle.

As a rule of thumb, a lot of new stock is shipped in for September/October, particularly Japanese cars given Japan's fiscal year runs on a March to September cycle. Another big inflow occurs between March and June.

Dr Sands suggests next January or February when the 2009 stocks are being cleared out.

Some great deals can also be had on ex-lease cars, particularly luxury vehicles. Ex-lease luxury cars are usually about six months old and come with all the extras included. Depending on mileage and condition, they can be very good value.

Once you have decided on the model you are interested in, contact a few dealerships and ask when the ex-lease vehicles will be brought in. Set your price before you buy and make it known to the dealer.

Prices can vary as much as $10,000 on the same $50,000 to $60,000 vehicle, depending on the car yard and your negotiating skills.

ELECTRONICS


Ben Maddison from Harvey Norman says the best time to buy electronics is now because prices are expected to get a lot higher.

"We're just about to see a massive increase in prices across our industry so now the consumer can get that last minute deal before the prices start to rise."

PETROL


Usually the cheapest time to buy petrol is towards the beginning of the week, so the earlier you buy the more you'll save.

"I think definitely putting petrol in your car is best on a Tuesday or a Wednesday when the prices are cheaper," Dr Sands says.

You might also be able to save big dollars if you use shopping dockets and use the internet to track the cheapest petrol in your area.

TRAVEL


There are a couple easy things to keep in mind when you are purchasing your airline ticket if you want to save.

You can usually save quite a bit of money by flying in the middle of the week and by flying at off peak hours.

Also, try to be flexible with your days and try to purchase as far in advance as possible. Buying a ticket well in advance can help secure a discount and ensure you don't pay a high premium for buying a ticket at the last minute.

It may mean you miss out on a discount if the plane isn't running near capacity, but on average, it's the best bet.

For non-holiday domestic travel, it probably isn't necessary to book more than 90 days in advance. During that time, it is worth keeping an eye out for patterns in prices.

The only time last minute shopping actually pays off is when you're booking that dream escape.

Dr Sands says there has been a reversal of sorts in the last ten years.

"Let's say ten years-ago, if you booked a hotel at the last minute you'd either not get a room or you would pay through the nose. Now if you book at the last minute you can get some great deals," he says.

REAL ESTATE


Winter is typically the best time to wrangle a bargain on a house. Most new listings hit the real-estate agencies in spring. This is when sellers are at their most optimistic and are testing the market with high asking prices.

The longer the property is on the market, the more flexible the pricing becomes.

On a larger cyclical calendar, it is best to buy a house in the first quarter of a housing boom, or a year or two after the boom has peaked.

A good indication of the timing on this can be rental yields. Rental yields would need to be at least six percent to be reasonably sure of getting an acceptable price.

Low interest rates and government incentives are making it the perfect time to purchase a new home if you can.

You can expect to save tens of thousands of dollars if you act soon.

FURNITURE


One of the best times to buy new furniture is in January and February.

This is partly because it is a very slow time for furniture retailers trying to compete with the broader post-Christmas sales, but also because they need to clear their stock out by February to make way for new inventory.

Another good sale period is around August/September.

At the cheaper end of the spectrum, large retailers tend to have spring and autumn sales where they clear the floor of old outdoor furniture stock at knock-down prices.

JEWELLERY


The rule of thumb here is to avoid Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Christmas.

Outside of peak periods, there can be very good opportunities to negotiate, particularly with the non-chain retailers on price.

Generally, though, the price of jewellery is influenced more by who you buy from, than when you buy.

Owner operators without a shopfront, such as VM Jewellery in Sydney, have lower overheads and can offer very good deals.

TOYS


From September onwards, toy retailers start stocking their shelves for Christmas, with November and December the peak months.

So basically, the best time to buy toys is anytime outside of this period.

Many retailers will try and clear much stock before the end of the financial year. If not, they would aim to have the balance of old stock out by winter's end.

January sales can also offer some good opportunities — particularly for faddish items.

CLOTHES


Clothes are highly seasonal purchases and the keen bargain hunter need only hold out a few months to clinch a decent discount.

Discounting for summer clothes begins in the January sales, but the real bargains are to be had in February and March. Any clothes that haven't been sold by then are likely to be slashed and burnt just to remove them from the floor.

The downside is that the gorgeous item you had your eye on may have already walked out the door or your size may not be available.

But if it is purely utility you are shopping for, the wait is worth it given savings in the order of 75 percent are not unusual at this time.

The same applies for winter clothes. Anything not sold by August or September will need to be shifted for the spring/summer ranges.

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