The Best and Worst Things to Buy in March

A shopping lull tends to hit in March. To get customers through the door, most retailers are willing to celebrate anything to make a sale — from St. Patrick’s Day to National Frozen Food Month. Seasonal clearance and post-Valentine’s Day offers make this month a shopper’s delight. March also begins a new travel season, so it’s a prime time to book a cruise and upgrade your luggage.

Read on to discover all the things you should (and shouldn’t) be shopping for this month, starting with the best deals:

Chocolate

With Valentine’s Day in the rearview mirror, you can save big bucks on chocolate gift boxes with seasonal packaging, as clearance sections tout discounts from 75 percent to 90 percent off after the big day.

Expect to see major price drops that run through early March, from giant stores like Target and Walmart to gourmet chocolatiers like Godiva and Lindt.

Frozen foods

March is National Frozen Food Month, and what better way for a lazy foodie to celebrate than to shop for low-cost freezer staples? Luckily, a host of popular brands will be offering discounts to celebrate, including Dole, Safeway, Green Giant, Tyson and Farm Rich. Keep an eye out for 10 percent off promotions, but expect to shop multibuys on select brands to get the most out of the discount.

St. Patrick’s Day deals and freebies

You might not think that St. Patrick’s Day is a major shopping holiday, but green sale banners do descend across the web in celebration of this Celtic holiday — if only because there’s a lack of any other big shopping dates in March.

Last year, retailer 6pm discounted more than 3,000 items to $17 or less on March 17 in one of its most popular sales of the year. Designer Living also impressed — the home store knocked 25 percent off sitewide, which was a tie for its best flat discount of the year.

If you’re heading out to catch a parade, make sure you also take advantage of the wide selection of freebies that’ll be touted by popular restaurants. IHOP and Stewart’s Shops have previously offered discounts to anyone wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. Tim Hortons also doled out free mint Timbits with any beverage purchase last year.

Those looking to avoid the parades come March 17 should also keep an eye out for discounted outdoor activities. Six Flags, for example, cut up to $25 off all one-day admission tickets on St. Patrick’s Day last year. Additionally, Travelzoo offered great cruise tours (with unlimited beer and wine!) at just $49 per person.

Cruises

It’s not just St. Patrick’s Day celebrations that cause cruise prices to fall — March is commonly known to be a good time to book a seafaring sojourn. This is thanks to the industry’s Wave Season, which runs from January to March and is often referred to as travel agents’ Black Friday.

Last year, we saw more cruise deals in March than in any other time of the year (aside from February, which offered a similar number of offers). You can expect to see three- to five-night cruises to exotic locations like the Bahamas from as little as $189 per person sharing. Mediterranean cruises for two could start as low as $620.

Gift cards

Outside of December, which is the very best time of year to buy gift cards, you can expect to see more gift card offers in March than at any other time of year. Of the 50 deals we listed in this month last year, the most popular was a $100 iTunes card, which fell to just $85. That remained the second-best price of the whole year (we only saw it drop by an additional 51 cents in all of 2017).

Know that you’ll see the very best gift card deals at eBay (particularly when shopping its daily deal section). In fact, 56 percent of all of last March’s top offers were from eBay with the majority found at PayPal’s storefront. CardCash is also a prime spot to pick up low-cost gift cards. But before shopping there, read up on how to avoid losing money and time with the often troublesome vendor.

Skiing and snowboarding equipment

Splurging on a skiing or snowboarding adventure is costly enough, so knowing when exactly to buy discounted apparel and equipment for your trip is essential. March is the beginning of discount season for winter sporting gear. You can buy last season’s styles for a fraction of their original cost as stores try to sell out old inventory.

Outdoor stores like Evo and The House will be the top spots to pick up bargains. Last March, they knocked up to 87 percent off and up to 70 percent off, respectively, on a wide selection of skis, boards and winter sports accessories. Although prices may fall further as we head into the summer months, you’ll want to shop now while choices are more plentiful. Besides, ski resort prices are also at a low of around 25 percent off right now!

Luggage

With spring break around the corner and summer vacations to plan for, stores routinely drop their prices on luggage in March. Because of this, we listed more luggage and travel gear deals in March than in any other month of the year in 2017!

We’re hoping that High Sierra will replicate last year’s form and again offer some of the best Editor’s Choice luggage deals of the season. Also, eBay and Macy’s will be worth a look come March, especially if Macy’s offers a sitewide coupon that applies to big brands. Generally, you can expect to shop backpacks from $6 and duffel bags from $14, while Samsonite luggage sets should once again fall as low as $56.

Select produce

For many reasons, it’s best to shop in-season produce when buying fruit and vegetables. Not only will your food taste better, but you’re likely to save up to 50 percent on your purchases. We expect to see lower prices on better-tasting artichokes, oranges, spinach, avocados, grapefruit and carrots — among other seasonal produce — in March.

That’s our recommendations on March deals. Next, things that you should not buy this month, if you can wait:

3 purchases to wait on …

Lingerie

Heart-shaped chocolates may fall to tempting prices in March, but after Valentine’s Day is not necessarily the best time of year to stock up on lingerie. Although deals aren’t terrible this month, you’ll be far better off holding out until June and July, when Victoria’s Secret unveils its ever-popular Semi-Annual Sale. Not only do prices plummet at that store, but it traditionally inspires markdowns at competitors like Frederick’s of Hollywood, Soma and Maidenform.

Spring apparel

March isn’t the best time to choose to restock your closet in general. Although you’ll still find great bargains on cold-weather apparel, you’re not likely to find big discounts on this season’s threads until May. Exceptions can be found at stores that tend to offer big sitewide offers at this time of year. If you have to buy seasonal, shop stores like Gap, PacSun or 6pm.

Android phones

It’s a commonly held belief that Android phones fall to substantial price lows in March after new models are introduced at the Mobile World Congress each February. But our research shows that the event doesn’t have quite the effect some expect. Outside of Black Friday and the holiday season, July appears to be the best month to upgrade. That month sees a far better selection of Editor’s Choice lows on these smartphones.

It’s also worth mentioning that many brands have their own release schedules for flagship phones.

Top 5 stores for March

  • Mountain Hardwear: The best spot to prepare for next year’s cold snap, this store will drop prices on outerwear to Editor’s Choice price lows before March is out. Last year, it halved all sale prices, which put jackets as low as $23.
  • REI: One of REI’s most popular sales of the year happens in March, the End of Winter Clearance! Last year, it knocked an extra 25 percent off already-discounted sale items from Columbia, Patagonia and the North Face.
  • 6pm: A firm exception to the “don’t buy spring apparel” rule, this store knocked a flat 20 percent off all spring styles in one of its best sales of the year last March. At the time, it was the best discount the store had offered in over two years.
  • Nashbar: We listed two Editor’s Choice sales from this store in all of 2017 — one in August and one in March. In the latter month, the store knocked a massive 50 to 70 percent off bikes of all sizes and styles.
  • Joe’s New Balance Outlet: We expect to see strong offers from this popular shoe store again in March, considering it hosted its best-ever sitewide discount in this month last year. By knocking 30 percent off all orders, it even beat its Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals from a few months earlier!

What’s on your shopping list for March? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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