October can be a great time to stock up on a wide variety of items at deep discounts. It is the shoulder season between the start of school and Thanksgiving, and stores must make room for the upcoming holidays. Big-ticket items such as electronics won't go on sale until the November to January holiday season, but you can still pick up some deals now. Here are five things that are often a steal in stores in October.
Outdoor and Garden Supplies
You may have already put away your lawnmower and gardening tools for the year. However, your local hardware stores would rather get rid of them than store them. October is a time to find great deals on outdoor products from fertilizers to spades to mulch. The National Gardening Association estimates that Americans spend just over $350 per year on lawn and garden activities, so it can take a chunk out of your budget. Be careful purchasing vegetable and fruit seeds on clearance. Some seeds lose their viability in a short amount of time, and you may not have as much luck with them next April. To keep them longer, store seeds in the freezer until spring. Leaf blowers, mowers and other large outdoor machines are also often on sale at this time of year.
If you are in a school district with uniforms, you likely know that they don't appear on the store floor after October. It can be distressing if you have a child with a winter growth spurt and are unable to find clothing that meets the school's rules. By the time October rolls around, most stores want to clear out their school uniforms. You may not see school uniforms in the stores until late next summer. School clothes average over $246 per family, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Also, uniforms can be more expensive than regular clothing.
You should buy uniform pieces that are a size or two larger than your children are right now so that they will have clothes when they outgrow their current ones. Even if your kids dress in regular clothes for school, you will likely find sweaters, jeans and other fall/winter clothing on the clearance racks as stores begin stocking holiday clothing and spring wear.
Along with school uniforms, most school supplies are also cleared out of stores in October to make room for Halloween and Thanksgiving goods. Pens, pencils, paper, binders and all sorts of school supplies are often cheapest in October. The NRF estimates that families will spend $95.44 on average on school supplies every year. Buying on clearance can save a substantial amount of money. You may not need any more school supplies after you stocked up in August but you will again at some point. School supplies don't go bad. If the deals are great but you already have too many school supplies, consider buying and donating them to your child's school or a local children's charity.
The best values to be had on Halloween costumes happen on November 1, along with everything else related to the holiday. However, costumes are often marked down in the week leading up to Halloween. The variety of costumes available at this time is often wider than it is after the fact. A recent NRF survey found that the average expected spending per person on Halloween costumes this year is $28.65. With clearance prices offering 50% off or more, you can save substantially by buying close to the holiday. If you're buying for kids for next year rather than this year, keep their projected growth in mind.
How many pumpkins or winter squash can you possibly handle? As Halloween gets closer, stores are looking to unload their inventory of this large, bulky fruit. You can buy pumpkins and roast them in the oven whole or store them in a root cellar. Roasted pumpkin can be scraped out of its skin and frozen in quart-size freezer bags for use in pumpkin pie, muffins, cookies and soups for the whole year. Pumpkins are perishable and retailers want to get rid of them before they expire. According to the USDA, the average price of a pumpkin is $4.80 in 2012. After Halloween, they are often cleared out for less than $1. If it appears that your local retailer still has plenty of pumpkins on Halloween evening, talk to the store manager about purchasing the rest the next day.
The Bottom Line
October can be a great time to score store deals as they transition between seasons. Stocking up on items that you know you will need in the near future makes sense and keeps money in your wallet.
More From Investopedia