What is the Best Time to Buy a Winter Coat and Clothes?

Smart Shoppers Know When to Find the Best Deals

Young lady trying on a coat in the boutique
Tang Ming Tung/Moment/Getty Images

If you want to get a great price on a new winter coat, the best time to buy is... December and after.

Spring fashions start hitting stores in February, so there's pressure to clear out all remaining winter inventory like coats, sweaters, pajamas and shoes. That means big discounts for smart shoppers.

If You Can Wait Until Late Winter, You'll Get a Better Deal on Clothes

Clothing stores are concerned with clearing space before the next season's fashions roll in.

The later in the season you can wait to shop, the better deals you can get.

When you pair these 'inventory reduction' sales with last-minute holiday sales, coupons and store loyalty programs, you can get the best bargains of the year.

Tip:  If you keep this in mind, you can find great deals on summer clothes in August as well.

Clearance Sales Before Annual Inventories

There is one more factor that can be the source of even bigger discounts: the annual store inventory. Most retailers take inventory in the first quarter of the year to take account of any losses and make sure the business is on track with its current stock.

You may have noticed bright tags hanging on the store shelves in January and February, this is the sign that inventory is taking place.

Before this annual event (which retail workers are very familiar with), the stores attempt to liquidate as much inventory as possible. If it's not in the store, they don't have to count it!

To reduce inventory, they put a lot of their seasonal clothing on the clearance racks. As any bargain shopper knows, clearance is where it's at! Inventory also brings out all of the clothing bargains that have been hidden in the back storeroom (sometimes for months or years).

The Drawbacks of Waiting Too Long to Shop

While you can find amazing deals on winter clothes by waiting, there are a few drawbacks.

 

  • It might be sold out. If you had your eye on that leather jacket and are waiting until the price drops, it may not be there. It's a risk you take and you can always ask chain stores to check for the coat at other locations.
  • It might not be in your size. If you wear a common size of clothing, your options may become very limited. That adorable cashmere sweater may be 70% off, but it does no good if it's two sizes too small!
  • Be ready to hunt out the deals. Shopping clearance racks full of bulky winter clothes is not a quick process. To find the best deals on clothes that actually fit, be ready to spend some time combing through the racks.
  • Growing kids can be an issue. Adults are done growing, so shopping for your own clothes at the end of a season is not a big deal. You can just wear it next fall and it will be just like new! Kids are a different story because they are constantly growing. Buying a winter coat for your 7-year-old this year and hoping that it will fit next year is a gamble. For kids' coats, sweaters and shirts, you can try to anticipate what size they will need in the fall. However, pants require a more precise fit and may actually save more money by buying them when needed.