Buying another pair of boots was not on my mind until the bus stopped at the corner of Madison Avenue and 61st Street long enough for me to get a good look into the Barney's window. There in casual spartan urbanity were leather and suede accessories, a stark juxtaposition to the flashy holiday display that had twinkled there for weeks. But it wasn't the brown suede poncho-slash-bolero perched on a pedestal like the thing of beauty it was that made this capable shopper flush. No, it was the huge diagonal block of letters that read CLEARANCE SALE.
To find a pair of boots with stylish elan at working girl savings, I'd better hit the streets now. By the end of January, footwear options will be limited. Mind you, I don't actually need a pair of boots, but shortly after the New Year's ball in Times Square drops I plan the new year's shopping calendar. Especially in a quasi-economic slowdown, shoppers target seasonal and end-of-season sales. Buying gifts and replacing household and personal items throughout the year can save a lot of money and spare you the holiday crush. And by matching birth dates, anniversaries and vacations to clearance sales, markdowns and promotional sales, you map a path around financial landmines. Here is a month-by-month guide:
Stock up for next year at clearance sales of holiday cards, decorations and gift wrappings. Traditional "white sales" of sheets and towels start appearing later in the month. Also look for women's coats, luxury items for Valentine's Day, and swimwear and luggage for resort season.
In a month chock-full of competing tributes such as Black History Month, Groundhog Day, Presidents Day and Mardi Gras, Valentine's Day romance dominates with signature hearts alongside red, pink, white and black lace. Find savings on housewares, fabric and seeds for the garden.
Hardware, paint, home supplies, gardening supplies, rainwear, sunglasses, china and glassware are traditionally on sale. Women's History month and St. Patrick's Day inspire their paraphernalia. Do advance work for spring as best shoe selections show up now.
The holy season of Passover and Easter dominates and inspires the spring cleaning reflected in the abundance of housecleaning, homebuilding and home- improvement supplies. Look for preseason air conditioner sales and do advance work for next month's gift buying.
Bargains can be found on summer whites and sportswear, outdoor play equipment, luggage, ready-to-wear and costume jewelry as Mother's Day and Memorial Day spark warm weather activity.
Brides, grads and dads are showcased this month. Spot savings on menswear, small appliances and camping supplies. Look for sales of bridal goods along with "white sale" items, silverware and clocks.
Fourth of July sales are as traditional as fireworks. Pay less for sporting goods, furniture, bedding, rugs and furs.
Summer clearances on clothing and seasonal furnishings come too soon. Sales on back-to-school supplies and clothing, big appliances, freezers and refrigerators remind us that it's the last chance. Good selections of fall clothing start appearing now.
Labor Day and religious observances such as Yom Kippur bring the fall into focus. Shop for sports goods and hunting equipment, children's shoes, fall fashion accessories, auto batteries, radios, dishwashers and glassware.
Starting with Columbus Day and ending with Halloween, events pick up speed along with good selections and some savings on eveningwear and winter outerwear. Also watch for sales on appliances like dryers and ranges, ski equipment and furnaces.
The day after Thanksgiving traditionally heralds the peak of the shopping season. Only Election Day and Veterans Day savings compete here. Holiday shoppers are tempted with men's clothing, fancy clothes, wine, liquor, toys, games, home furnishings, specialty foods and candy. Find a good selection of novelty and seasonal items.
Your year of shopping is done, with a good percentage of it at substantial savings. Feast, celebrate and count your savings after your blessings.
For more shopping information and inspiration:
Barney's New York
For web shopping
The S&B Report
You'll thank me for this one.