In Finding the Best Deals, Timing Is Everything

window shopping
window shopping

Savvy shoppers know that retail discounts have a rhythm and a flow. But determining the best days, months and locations to find those discounts can often require more time and energy than the average person has at their disposal.

For customers determined to crack the code of savings, a new study by SumAll provides insight to the best days, months and places to shop for the most online discounts.

SumAll, which tracks the sales trends of small- and medium sized online retailers, recently compiled data from 3,000 merchants (and nearly half a billion dollars in transactions over four years) to give a broader picture of when, where and how customers can save.

You'll Pay the Most in March

With the lack of a major holiday or seasonal swing to anchor sales, customers will find March is the most expensive month to shop, with retailers offering the fewest discounts during this month.

Stocking up on pens and pencils? Back-to-school sale fliers may claim the contrary, but August is the second-most expensive month in which to shop.

Despite the generally accepted notion that sales abound in the days immediately following Christmas, customers who wait until after the winter holidays for the best discounts will be missing out. The study shows that, although January is a prime period for discounts, it's still a close second to November, when retailers are gearing up for the holidays.

Didn't shop during these two prime periods? Wait again until May, when discounts are once again on offer.

Give Shopping a Rest on Sundays

Even when shopping during a prime month for retail discounts, such as November or January, all shopping days are not created equal.

Throughout the year, the best days to shop (i.e., those days when retailers offer the most discounts) are Tuesday, followed closely by Thursdays. Shopping on a Sunday? Expect to pay slightly higher prices.

Searching out holidays sales? Black Friday, the day immediately after Thanksgiving, and its counterpart, Cyber Monday, lead the pack of holiday discounts.

If you can't wait until November to nab a bargain, skip Memorial Day in favor of Independence Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day., when retailers offer larger savings.

Newer = Cheaper

Not sure whether to give that new site a shot? Waiting will cost you.

The study shows that companies and brands that are younger are more liberal with coupons and other discounts, with companies less than one year old offering the most deals.

It stands to reason that as brands and companies become more established, they have less incentive to discount. The older the business becomes, the more loyal customers it will have, and the more they will pay.

Some States Fare Better Than Others

Nearly 50% of all discounts are given in just five states, with California claiming a hefty 17%, followed by Texas, New York, Illinois and Florida. Maine, West Virginia and the Dakotas saw some of the lowest discounts in the U.S.

As a whole, the United States trailed the U.K. in finding the best deals, while Europe, Canada and Australia didn't fare quite as well.

Putting It Together

So, if we take SumAll's findings to heart, Californians, shopping on a Tuesday near Thanksgiving at a 1-year-old company, will get the best deals. And Alaskans shopping on a Sunday in March will get some of the worst.

Of course, in between those two extremes is a veritable buffet of discount options, and customers playing mix and match with months, holidays, states, days of the week and retailers can build their own discounts.

best deals
best deals

Molly McCluskey is a regular contributor to The Motley Fool. Follow her on Twitter @MollyEMcCluskey.