These Are the Best Times To Shop at Costco, Target and Other Big-Box Stores

Exterior view of Target chain store in Minnetonka, Minnesota.
jimkruger /

Whether you’re a casual or avid shopper, knowing the best time of day, week or month to shop can help you save money and get the best deals. This is just as true for big-box stores like Target, Walmart and Costco as it is for smaller retailers.

Many of these big-box stores have deals based on the season or special events. Depending on the location, you may be able to take advantage of these great deals online or in person.

If you’re looking to get the most out of your next big-box store shopping excursion, here are some of the best times — and places — to go.

Big-Box Stores With the Best Deals

Shopping online has become more and more popular, especially since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, Amazon alone brought in around $149.2 billion (net) in the fourth quarter of 2022. This is a 9% increase over the previous year’s earnings.

But while many people prefer shopping online, there are still several big-box retailers that are worth the trip — especially if you’re trying to save a little money. These include:

  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Costco
  • Sam’s Club
  • Big Lots
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These stores have a large variety of products that make them convenient if you’re looking for a one-stop location for all of your shopping needs. More than that, they also offer some great deals and discounts that are hard to beat when you’re on a tight budget. In some cases, you might even end up paying less if you shop in person rather than online.

“Big box stores are perfect for people wanting to purchase their groceries in bulk for a much healthier price than branded supermarkets,” said Natalie Warb, financial expert at CouponBirds. “These stores offer a much-reduced rate for items that can be found in everyday grocery stores, but at certain times of the year, even further reductions can be taken advantage of.”

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Shopping at Big-Box Stores Throughout the Year

Many big-box retailers will bring in new merchandise for specific holidays or events. These stores also frequently have discounts throughout the year. Here are some of the best times of the year to go shopping (and what to buy):

  • January: Federal holidays like New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day are great times to scout out sales at places like Walmart, Target and Big Lots. You could get discounts on things like winter apparel and other out-of-season items. If you’re big into the winter holidays, this is also a good time to stock up on next year’s decor.
  • February: Long weekends throughout the year — including President’s Day — often come with deals on things like appliances or mattresses.
  • March: Many big-box stores offer deals on outdoor clothes, furniture and accessories around the start of spring.
  • April/May: You can often find clothing and households appliances marked down around Easter. Certain big-box retailers — including Walmart and Target — will have deals on things like jewelry, spring attire and major appliances around Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.
  • June/July: Big-box stores will often have Independence Day or Father’s Day discounts. Depending on where and when you shop, you could find marked-down prices on popular items like televisions, grills, menswear and tools. Big Lots, for example, often reduces their prices on furniture around this time of year.
  • August/September: With summer coming to an end, big-box retailers tend to drop their prices on things like summer apparel, patio furniture and other outdoor supplies. You may also start seeing seasonal discounts on school items around this time.
  • October/November/December: Some of the biggest sales of the year happen during these months. Big-box retailers like Costco, Walmart and Sam’s Club typically have Black Friday deals on everything from electronics to games to appliances. Some of these deals will extend a couple of weeks before and after the actual day.
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Other Times To Shop at Big-Box Stores

Looking for some other ways to get some discounts at big-box stores? Here are some of the best times to go if you’re looking for the best deals.

Special Savings Week

Certain big-box stores have special savings periods.

“In Sam’s Club, customers are advised to keep a look out for the brand’s ‘special savings weeks’ that run at different times in the year,” said Warb. “In 2021, their spring event lasted from April 10 to April 18 and currently there is an instant savings event running until April 10 which began in March.”

End of the Season

Certain things — like coats, sandals and swimwear — regularly get swapped out for items that are more appropriate for the season. Unless you’re in a rush for new clothes, wait until the season’s about to change before going shopping. You’re more likely to find some major deals this way.

This goes for back-to-school apparel and other goods, too. Things like binders, backpacks and kids’ clothes tend to be marked down in October once the rush has ended.

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Before New Merchandise Comes In

Target, Walmart and other big-box stores don’t have a strict restocking schedule. However, they typically restock their shelves between one and three times a week — often on Mondays, Thursdays or just before the weekend.

These retailers also often mark down the items they plan to switch out in order to clear the shelves. This can lead to greater discounts than you’d get otherwise.

Try shopping early in the morning, too, especially if you’re getting perishables like meat.

“You’re going to find the cheapest prices while shopping in the morning before the next daily shipment hits the stores and the older meat needs to be sold or tossed,” said Lexy Rogers, author of “Break Bread on a Budget.” “Ask the store manager when they receive their shipments and shop around the few days/hours before.”

As an added bonus, if you go shopping on a weekday you could get to some of these sales without the competition of other shoppers.

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Two Months Into the Season

It may be tempting to shop as soon as the new season’s items come in, but try to hold off for a month or two. Many big-box retailers will reduce their prices on goods that have been sitting on the shelves for a few weeks. You might end up missing out on some of the more popular items, but you could also reduce impulse buying and save money.

More Ways To Save Money at Big-Box Stores

Knowing the best times to go shopping is one thing, but shopping at big-box retailers could still be costly if you’re not careful. Having the right shopping strategies can bring your savings to a whole new level. Here are some of the best ways to save money at big-box retailers:

  • Get a price match. If you purchase something in person but find a lower price online, ask for a price match. You may be able to get it at the lower price point.
  • Get a price adjustment. If you buy something and the price changes afterwards, ask for a price adjustment. If you have proof of purchase, you could get a refund on the difference between what you originally paid and the new price. Costco, for example, offers price adjustments for most goods that change prices within 30 days. Both Walmart and Sam’s Club offer price adjustments for prices that change within seven days of purchase.
  • Buy meat early and in bulk. “When it comes to shopping at big-box stores, meat in any variety can put a dent in your wallet,” said Rogers. “I recommend buying in bulk, shopping on a weekday early in the morning and freezing what you don’t need right away.”
  • Return items you don’t need. Most big-box retailers have some kind of return policy. Costco, Walmart and Target, for example, will let you return unopened, nonperishable items for up to 90 days after purchase. Sam’s Club has no time limit on returns, but you will need a receipt.
  • Use coupons. Many big-box stores have coupons for additional discounts on goods. Some retailers, like Sam’s Club and Costco, have retailer-specific coupons. Others, including Walmart and Target, accept manufacturer coupons. You can typically access these through the store app or online.
  • Check the clearance section. Typically, big-box retailers have a small clearance section on things like apparel, dishes, pet supplies and electronics.

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About the Author

Angela Mae is a personal finance writer specializing in consumer loans, debt management, investing, retirement planning, and financial literacy. She comes from a journalistic background and pulls from hands-on experience and deep-dive research to breathe life into her stories. Her goal is to help others achieve financial stability and independence. When not writing, she can be found traveling, honing her yoga skills, hiking, or exploring new means of healthy, sustainable living.
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