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

Young lady trying on a coat in the boutique
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If you want to get a great price on a new winter coat or wardrobe, 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. The later in the season you shop, the better the deals will be.

Clearance Sales Before Annual Inventories

You can also save big by shopping for winter clothes shortly before stores do their yearly inventory.

Most retailers take inventory in the first quarter of the year, to record any losses and make sure the business is on track with its current stock.

If you've ever walked into a store and seen bright tags hanging on every shelf, this is a 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. 

  • Items might sell out. If you've had your eye on that leather jacket, and you're waiting until the price drops, just know that it may not be there when you go back for it. This is a risk you take, when bargain shopping. Jot down the item number, and you'll be able to have an associate check availability at other locations.
  • It might not be available in your size. If you wear a common clothing size, they may sell out in your size long before they mark things down. That adorable cashmere sweater may be 70% off, but it won't do you any 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 isn't a big deal. You can just wear it next fall. Kids are a different story because they're 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'll need in the fall. However, pants require a more precise fit and you may actually save more money by buying them when needed.

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