Consumer Reports tracks the prices of lots of products all year long, which means we can let you know which month (or, in some cases, months) you can find the best deals on those items.
The six products listed below should be available at their lowest annual price in October. Just keep our usual caveat in mind: Great sales offen occur at the end of a season when inventories are thin, so you may not have a huge selection to choose from.
As a result, it's important to check our buying guides (and for subscribers to check our Ratings) to make sure you also get a great performing product.
Not sure which kind of bike to buy? Narrow your choice to one of the four basic types. If you're an avid cyclist, you may prefer a conventional road bike. Looking for a leisurely ride on flat, paved roads? A comfort bike may be more your speed. If you favor rugged trails, a mountain bike might be best.
Before you buy, ride a bike far enough to make sure that the brakes and shifters are easy to use, the fit is comfortable, the gears can go low enough for climbing hills, and the frame and suspension adequately smooth the bumps.
If you'll be riding with children, we have a guide to bike trailers that will let you take a youngster on your riding adventures long before she's ready for training wheels.
If you're in the market for a new computer because your old model's performance is sluggish at best, try to beef up its performance first.
For example, delete programs you no longer use. If that isn't enough, and if the computer is no more than four years old, add 1GB of memory. Adding memory is an inexpensive and easy way to upgrade your computer.
If you're running out of hard drive space, burn your music, photos, and videos onto CDs or DVDs, or onto an external drive, and delete them from your hard drive.
If that doesn't work and the computer is more than four years old, it's probably time to replace it. Check out our computer buying guide to brush up on the latest features and shopping tips (subscribers can check out our Ratings of laptops and desktops and our Ratings on manufacturer and in-store tech support).
Digital cameras have better lenses than smart phones or tablets, which means they produce sharper pictures, especially in low lighting or when taking zoom shots.
But buying a digital camera can be confusing. There are hundreds of cameras available at many different types of retail outlets (online and in traditional stores), with prices ranging from $75 to several thousand dollars. Some cameras are small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. Others are large and can weigh up to two pounds. Some are easy to use. Others look like you need an engineering degree to operate them.
When you're shopping for a new grill, match the size of the grill's cooking area to the number of people you typically feed. Remember, manufacturers might include racks and searing burners when tallying cooking area. Our measurements are based on the main cooking area and how much food it will hold. Next factor in how much space the grill will take up on your patio or deck. Some of the grills we tested are a whopping six feet wide.
Even if you don't plan to shop for a mower, you could end up doing so if you own an older model and it breaks. The latest data from the Consumer Reports National Research Center show that push mowers usually aren't worth fixing after four years and self-propelled mowers after five years. Older tractors might be worth repairing, but getting them to and from the shop can add expense.
When you're choosing a new mower, consider how you'll use it. Most models come ready to mulch, bag, or side-discharge clippings. But mulching or bagging with a riding machine usually requires a kit that costs $50 to $500. And check the features and controls before you buy.
A new coat is likely to be one of your bigger clothing purchases if you live in a cold climate, and one of most used items in your closet during the winter.
You'll find good deals on coats this month, and shopping at the right time can save you even more, say the editors at Shop Smart magazine. Kohl's fans, for example, should check out the "Gold Star Clearance" racks, where prices are slashed up to 80 percent on weekend nights. Every Wednesday, shoppers who are 60 years old and older get an extra 15 percent off.
At Target, women's clothing is generally marked down on Tuesdays, men's on Wednesday, and kids' on Mondays. Markdowns at Marshalls and T.J. Maxx usually happen on Wednesday.
Want to know what's on sale the rest of the year? See our calendar of deals.
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