According to the 2013 Holiday Retailer Outlook survey by Deloitte, the most important attribute of a retailer for Canadians is PRICE.

If you are looking for a deal this holiday season, then timing your shopping is very important. There are certain times where you can get the best deals leading up to Christmas, the end of shopping and holiday season for most retailers. Here are some tricks you can use to save you lots of money this holiday season:

1) Buy EARLY, or anytime you see a deal throughout the year – While I don’t suggest you start shopping for the next holiday on Boxing Day, this actually is a great time to stock up on things like wrapping paper for the following year. Stores are generally trying to clear this stuff out so they can make room for the next holiday, likely Valentine’s Day, on the shelves. In the months leading up to the holidays, if you see something at a great deal for someone you will be buying for anyway, why not get it a bit earlier while you have the deal there. If it goes further on sale, most credit cards these days offer 90-day price protection.

Deloitte’s 2013 Holiday Retail Outlook

Deloitte’s 2013 Holiday Retail Outlook

2) Anytime you are in the United States – While Canadian retailers are becoming much more competitive, the US still has WAY better pricing on most items. If you happen to find yourself across the border already, take advantage of the savings and maximize your shopping allowances. Heck, don’t even be afraid to go over a bit if the deal is really good because duty isn’t really that much anyway. Just make sure you are honest about it and claim everything at the border, because if you don’t… well, good luck, but it will not be worth it.

3) Black Friday – For those who don’t know, Black Friday is THE BIGGEST shopping day of the year in the United States. It always takes place on the Friday following Thanksgiving, and besides being known as the most deadly shopping day of the year, it is known for having the best deals of the entire year. Over the past few years Canadian retailers have felt the pinch in their pocketbook from Canadians crossing the border for these deals, and have started offering their own Canadian Black Friday deals. While our deals still aren’t as good as our neighbours to the south, they are getting much better every year.

4) Leading Up To Christmas – In the past, the closer you got to Christmas, the more money you paid for items. Fortunately, this is changing. Over the past few years Retailers have been forced to compete with the American retailers, which means they are keep their “sales” (I use quotations because unless it is over 40% I don’t consider it to be a deal) running longer. Consumers who participated in the Deloitte survey mentioned at the start of this article also said they plan on spending less money this year which will also contribute to the longer sales. While you will likely spend more as you get closer to Christmas, you won’t spend as much as you would have in the past.

5) Boxing Day – In Canada, boxing day was our version of Black Friday. The only problem, you had to buy gifts after the time when you wanted to present the gifts. The way this is changing is gift cards have grown massively in popularity, so if you want to get your special someone more bang for your buck, give them a gift card over the holidays and your cash will likely go a bit further. The downside of Boxing Day shopping is it is a complete NIGHTMARE! Long lines, no parking spots, limited selection and often the deals aren’t even that much of a deal. For those still reading, you can still find deals but you gotta dig.

6) Boxing Week Mid January – Since these are historically the worst shopping times for retailers, many have extended their deals post boxing day for a few weeks. This is the time where they clear out everything to start making way for the spring clothing. Deals can be amazing, but you are gonna have to really pick through the scraps left over from all the previous sales. If you aren’t super picky this time is great for finding a really good deal.

7) Shop Online – While this has nothing to do with when to shop, it is a tip about where to shop. Shopping online is a great way to find deals on everything. eBay is still an awesome site for getting a deal on ANYTHING, and always look out for sales from your favourite retailer’s online store.

8) What You Buy – If you are looking to stretch your dollar a bit further these holidays, check out my Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas article from last year.

If you have any questions or advice about holiday shopping for Canadians, let us know in the comments section below.

Deloitte’s 2013 Holiday Retail Outlook

Deloitte’s 2013 Holiday Retail Outlook