Three simple tips to help you save on Black Friday bargains

Before the spirit of the holiday season truly arrives, the unofficial kickoff to the holidays starts with the annual retail tradition of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

And while everyone loves a bargain, questions abound about whether or not Black Friday and Cyber Monday are truly the great deal-getting holiday sales they're cracked up to be.

The truth is, many retail items revolve around sales cycles, with certain products costing more or less at different times of the year. Some of this has to do with supply and demand, the seasonality of a particular product (like when winter boots go on sale in the spring), or when new product lines are released.

So while Black Friday and Cyber Monday have a reputation amongst bargain hunters, and retailers always promote sales in their marketing, getting a really good deal might involve a little more planning than simply waiting for the third weekend in November.

Here are three tips to help you save on things you plan to purchase:

1. Buy at periods of highest and lowest demand
Everyone can understand the logic of purchasing items when demand drops, such as picking up swimsuits at the end of the summer, or Halloween candy on November 1. But sometimes, certain products are discounted at periods of peak demand. Television sets, for example, are often on sale in January after the holiday buying season and before the Super Bowl.

2. Browse anonymously online
Some online retailers will use your location or postal code to change the price of a product based on the socioeconomic profile of your neighbourhood. Sometimes, doing your online shopping in an "incognito" window of your Internet browser can help you get a better price. 

3. Use high-tech for old school price comparisons
There are a variety of apps and services you can use to check to help verify if you're getting a deal. Price tracker apps for smartphones and Web browsers will sometimes allow you to see a full history of prices for a particular item, while some retailer apps can notify you when you the cost of something you are eyeing drops.

Wondering what the right time of year to make a purchase is? Here's a list of when some common products tend to be discounted:

January – Fitness equipment 
February – TVs and home theatre systems 
March – Luggage 
April – Travel (especially cruises) 
May – Gardening tools 
June – Home improvement tools 
July – Summer apparel/swimwear
August – Kid's clothes 
September – Lawn mowers 
October – Barbecues 
November – Halloween candy 
December – Holiday decorations (especially towards the end of the month)