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This is going to sound absurd, but in the mid-’90s, I bought space heaters as Christmas presents – in the middle of summer, for my friends in Florida.
I don’t recall the exact year, but it was when those really portable ceramic space heaters first hit the discount stores. Contrary to popular belief, it does get chilly in Florida. And as you might expect, buying space heaters in the summer means quite a discount.
Ever since then, I’ve learned the wisdom of holiday shopping in summertime. Here are my favorites, from most obvious to least…
1. Winter clothing: You’d expect winter clothing to be cheaper now. So, for instance, Crocs winter boots are deeply discounted – this pair of Nadia boots are marked down from $34.99 to $29.99. And an Inglesina Winter Footmuff (which protects your baby from the cold while in a stroller) is half off at Amazon – marked down from $5o to $24.95.
2. Tools: I have no evidence other than my own observations, but hardware stores seem to have more appealing sales for Fourth of July than any other holiday (except maybe Father’s Day). So this is when I pick up those handy battery-powered screwdrivers or compact wrench sets for my novice handyman friends – and I can score sweet deals on higher-end power tools for the experts in my family.
3. Home appliances: Just like cars have model years, so do dishwashers and refrigerators – new models usually debut in September and October. Obviously, I’m not buying those for Christmas and stashing them in my garage for six months. But I have purchased smaller items like last year’s model of bread-makers (when that was all the rage) and food processors. I save a bundle and they occupy only a little bit of space.
4. Furniture: Every January and July, furniture stores clear out space for new inventory. So the old stuff is a bargain. Again, I’m not buying my relations a new sectional couch and storing it the garage for half a year. But I’ve bought a cool-looking office desk for a third off before. I also bought an office chair, but I liked it so much I kept it.
5. Computers: This is a dicier proposition. It only really works with older relatives who don’t care about the latest models and greatest speeds. But it’s a very cost-effective strategy for college kids: Buy an Apple or Microsoft laptop before school starts in the fall, and you get another present along with your purchase: either a $100 iTunes gift certificate or a free Xbox. Or you could do like me and just keep the bonus for yourself. Who’s gonna know?