We all want to save money. The truth is, simply timing your shopping trip well is half the battle. This holds true for your weekly grocery list as well as for major purchases like cars and even homes. In this post, learn what experts say about the best times to shop for small and large items you may need and want. 

1. Food

  • Earlier in the day: Not only will you be less likely to succumb to cravings if you shop mid-morning or right after lunch, but you will have more time and space to focus on saving.
  • Mid-week: Wednesday is typically a day when a grocer's weekly sales cycle begins to turn over. The focus shifts to the new order coming in, and the rush is on to clear the shelves and make room.
  • Late at night: Like shopping earlier, shopping late at night has its advantages. You’ll catch late-night markdowns (especially on meat, seafood and other perishables), and the store will be less crowded. (Plus, cashiers will be less stressed and more apt to work with you to process your coupons.)
  • Right after a major holiday: Want to see amazing, stupefying, jaw-dropping markdowns? The day after a major holiday will give you your fix! 

2. Vehicles

Just like grocers have mid-week slumps and weekend rushes, so too do car dealerships. They also struggle through seasonal slumps and quota crunches.

  • Month-end: Quota pressure builds up at the end of each month, so you may get more accommodation on price-reduction requests.
  • Weekdays rather than weekends: Not only will you get more personalized attention on less busy weekdays, but you may also appreciate the more leisurely pace.
  • At the end of each quarter: Sales quotas are tallied at the end of each quarter. Sales people desperate to measure up (or score extra perks) may be more likely to wheel and deal.
  • At the end of the year: Year-end is major crunch time for dealerships. New models are coming and they must make room.
  • At the end of the season: Some manufacturers roll out new models only at year-end, others at the end of the summer or fall season. Here too, you will benefit by the dealership's desire to clear the lot for newcomers.

3. Air travel

For the most part, you can expect fares to jump during predictable times annually, such as right around national holidays (this may not apply to international travel, however). Here’s what experts say about nabbing a cheaper fare—advice includes when to shop and also when to fly.

Best times to shop:

  • Tuesday afternoons: Just like grocers tend to slash prices mid-week, the airline industry predictably releases discounted fare offers on Tuesday afternoons.
  • Whenever your preferred airline feels like offering specials: The airline industry is one of the most unpredictable when it comes to advertised specials. This is because each airline has a different sized fleet, different travel routes and times, and different quotas and profit margins to consider. So the moral here is to keep your eyes peeled at all times.

Best times to travel:

  • Early a.m. or late p.m.: There is a reason these flights are called "red-eye" flights. You’ll be tired, but your wallet will feel very energized!
  • Any day but Friday and Sunday: These are heavy days for business travelers, and fares will be packed (and priced) accordingly.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday: These are the dates least in demand for business travelers, so they are also the dates some airlines have more trouble keeping booked. You will benefit from lower fares and more personal space.

4. Fuel 

It may seem hard to fathom how there can be a "cheaper" day to shop for fuel, but experts say there are some patterns to remain aware of.

  • Weekends: Depending on where the station is, and if it’s heavily dependent on business/commuter/school traffic, you can find cheaper prices on weekends when it’s harder to move inventory. The lower prices may also be linked to market downtime on weekends.
  • Weekdays: Of course, if the stations near you are on popular weekend travel routes, you may find cheaper prices during the week when traffic dies down.

5. A new home 

Whether shopping in the rental or to-own market, in most communities the busiest times are when people are free from work to browse and buy.

  • Early in the week: Realtors and homeowners alike can become unnerved after a slow weekend with few or no takers. Tuesday, in particular, is traditionally a time to take stock and make price changes if necessary.

6. Clothes, shoes and accessories 

Malls, department stores, and retailers in high-traffic communities will definitely see the most action on weekends (starting Friday night). As well, just like auto dealerships and grocers, clothiers have their own sales cycles to contend with.

  • Wednesday through Friday: Not only is this when most of the new merchandise will arrive (check with your specific stores to find out the exact day of the week), but it’s also when the big merchandise exodus becomes critical and markdowns appear. Thursdays tend to be the most reliable day to find sales and clearance items.
The Best Times to Shop for Groceries, Air Travel and More