Photo (cc) by paulswansen
This post comes from Sarah Jones at partner site DealNews.
Online coupons may appear to be released at random. But if you look closely, patterns emerge. Knowing when stores are more likely to release new offers allows you to strategize for savings — and perhaps save some time looking for discounts in the process.
We’ve talked about stores with the most coupon codes before — those that you are most likely to find a discount for if you search before purchasing. But, besides sheer volume, there are also particular times that are generally better for finding coupons at any store.
In addition, there are specific stores that engage in rather habitual behavior when it comes to releasing coupons, which means there are certain times you can check to find their latest offers.
To help you map out a more systematic approach for finding discounts online, we’ve taken a close look at when coupons are released, using information from our coupon database and experience.
We’ve singled out the specific trends for our readers’ seven favorite retailers for coupons, but now we’re back to lay out the general best times to go searching for coupons using data from the past two years.
First of the month
Retailers always release a lot of coupons on the first day of every month, so it’s a great time to check for new offers. Some of these coupons will be valid for the entire month, which gives you plenty of leeway for making a purchasing decision.
However, coupons that last that long might not be the store’s best offer. Larger discounts are usually released for shorter durations, such as a week or a couple of days. Even so, it’s good to be aware of monthly discounts a store is offering if you need them in a pinch and can’t wait for a better coupon.
If you aren’t in a hurry, keep an eye out for offers that come out for shorter periods of time for potentially bigger savings. Midmonth or later can be a good time to check. At this point, retailers may release more enticing offers to spur more sales before the month ends.
Early in the week
We see a higher volume of new coupons at the beginning of each week. Various stores rotate offers on a weekly basis. The most common day for these offers to come out is Sunday, and they will usually last until the following Saturday.
Check early each week, like Mondays, to find new discounts aplenty. If you aren’t finding anything too compelling for a store you want to shop at, you can try checking Thursday or Friday, when weekend discounts start coming in.
Around holidays and special occasions
You will always find an increase in coupon codes released around holidays, particularly the major ones. When these coupons are released varies based on the holiday and what people typically purchase for it.
Those that involve gift giving or purchases like clothing intended for use on the holiday, such as Mother’s Day and Easter, will usually have coupon codes released well in advance of the day, up to six weeks ahead of time. However, the bulk of the offers start ramping up about two weeks before the holiday.
As the holiday gets even closer and standard shipping deadlines pass, you are more likely to see special expedited-shipping offers to get your purchase delivered on time. These can be great options for last-minute shoppers who want to avoid hefty shipping charges for quick delivery.
But they may be offered in lieu of the percentage or dollar-off discounts you’ll see earlier on, which might also include free standard shipping in time for the holiday.
Holidays that aren’t associated with gift giving, like Memorial Day, actually have the bulk of coupon offers right at the holiday itself. For Memorial Day this year, we saw offers start trickling in during the second week of May, around three weeks before the holiday. But the vast majority of the offers came in on the Thursday and Friday right before the holiday weekend and went through Monday.
Besides official holidays, there are other special occasions throughout the year that will experience similar increases in offers. Most notably, Cyber Monday is one of the very best days to find big coupon discounts, and these offers will typically be for that day only. Other occasions include Super Bowl Sunday, graduation, and back-to-school.
In August and October
When looking at which months of the year are best for finding coupons, our data show this can vary quite a bit from year to year. However, for the past two years our total number of active coupons reached their highest levels at the end of August and the end of October.
At the end of August, the higher numbers are likely the result of a mix of back-to-school and final summer clearance offers. At the end of October, we’re right at a point where we have both Halloween and holiday shopping season offers affecting coupon volume.
Apply timing to your savings approach
They say timing is everything. If you have a good idea when coupons are being released and some of the general patterns stores tend to follow, you can coordinate savings for your own purchases accordingly. It can help give you that bit of extra edge in your own savings game.
When are your favorite times to find coupons? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to check out our complete coupon guide for more tips on how to coupon like a pro.
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