By JEANETTE PAVINI
That’s right, it’s already March! And though the holiday sales are long gone, there still are deals to be found.
March has its own set of events and celebrations: daylight-saving time, spring break, Passover, Easter and St. Patrick’s Day. When you know where and when to shop you can certainly turn these celebrations into savings.
1. Spring Travel
Easter comes early this year, March 31, which means most schools have spring break somewhere between March 8 and April 7. So finding airfare deals now may be challenging.
“Airlines have paid attention to each major school district’s calendar, and have really raised prices for travel on the Saturday that corresponds with each major school district’s spring-break schedule,” says Tom Parsons, chief executive of BestFares.com.
Mr. Parsons suggests taking a four- or five-day trip so you can avoid weekend departures and returns. When he compared a seven-night vacation from Dallas to Fort Lauderdale departing on a Saturday to a four-night vacation departing on a Monday, for example, there was a $62-per-ticket savings. That’s a total savings of $248 for a family of four.
Mr. Parsons also recommends checking out alternate airports. Disney World is a popular spring-break destination, but you can often save by flying into Tampaâ€”a little over an hour from Orlandoâ€”which is a less popular destination.
The real savings for travel happens when you book in March and travel later in the spring. An early Easter means peak spring travel only lasts about 30 days, compared with the 60 days it was in 2011 when Easter fell on April 24.
You should see substantial airfare drops for travel between April 10 and June 8.
The first week of March may be the best week for skiers and snowboarders. March 4-8 is Liftopia.com’s second annual National Play Hooky Ski Week. (Liftopia is an online marketplace for lift tickets to ski resorts around the world.) Lift tickets start at $7. Resorts with some of the largest discounts include Suicide Six in Vermont (84% off), Caberfae Peaks in Michigan (78%), Ragged Mountain in New Hampshire (65%) Bryce Resort in Virginia (63%) and Snow Valley in California (58%). Lift tickets must be purchased at least 24 hours in advance at Liftopia.com.
2. Step Into Spring With New Shoes
Clocks spring forward on March 10 for Daylight Saving Time. Those extra hours of sunshine mean more time for outdoor exercise and lower prices on athletic shoes.
It can be difficult to distinguish genuine deals from the hype. Some stores mark up prices and then heavily discount them to make you feel like you’re getting a good deal. Knowing the average price an item typically sells for can help you gauge a real deal. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, hiking boots cost an average of $68.54, running shoes an average of $64.82, and walking shoes an average of $49.56. Use these numbers as a guideline when shopping.
And shop for footwear in the evening. Your feet are actually larger (think of that swollen feeling you get after a day on your feet), and therefore more likely to mirror the conditions your feet will be in when you’re on the move.
Rain boots get grouped with winter clearance items. So you’ll find heavily discounted boots just in time for April showers.
3. Spring Cleaning
March 20 marks the official start of spring, so I know we’ll all be ready to start that spring-cleaning. You will find cleaning products on sale this month, but think beyond the glass cleaner.
White vinegar is actually an amazing all-purpose cleaner and it often goes on sale around Easter since so many families use it to dye eggs. Vinegar can be used to clean tile and linoleum, unclog drains, remove mildew stains, shine silver and so much more. (Always test it out on a small spot first.)
White distilled vinegar has a long, almost indefinite, shelf life, so stock up while it’s on sale.
Also check with local cleaning services; some offer spring-clean promotions for new customers.
4. Alleviate the Allergies
Along with the beautiful flowers, spring brings the not-so-beautiful allergy season, Aeroallergens like dust and pollen affect half of Americans and treatment costs amount to $21 billion annually, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
This month, look for promotions on all things allergy-related, including medications, humidifiers, HEPA filters and dust-mite covers.
â€”Jeanette Pavini writes the Best Buys column every month. She also appears at MarketWatch.com. Write to email@example.com.
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page WSJ3