NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Shopping a sporting goods store can be tricky, since equipment retailers aren’t known for their sales.
The lack of discounts has to do with their customer base.
“Typically, parents buy sporting equipment right before a season starts,” says Brooke de Lench, founder of MomsTeam.com, a sports resource website for parents. She explains that it can be difficult for these consumers to shop at any other time since a child’s size can change so rapidly.
Additionally, league specifications, which are constantly subject to change, aren’t always provided during the off season.
“It’s almost impossible to buy a season ahead,” de Lench says. “Sporting goods stores know they have a captive market and that’s why we don’t see huge sales.”
The need to buy in season leads to availability problems for all consumers, not just parents and their kids, and is largely why you shouldn’t wait until January to go looking for a Speedo.
“They aren’t easy to find, and you’ll pay full price,” Christine Frietchen, editor-in-chief of ConsumerSearch.com, says. “A better idea is shopping about a month or six weeks into the season. That’s when you’ll start to see sales, especially on apparel.”
As such, Frietchen suggests consumers buy swim gear and camping equipment in late July or early August, skis/snowboard gear in late February and early March and running shoes in early spring when the new models are hitting stores, though she notes that there’s a secondary season for shoes in October-November.
Beyond timing, our experts point to the following tips to find the best deals on sporting equipment:
In an effort to save, de Lench encourages parents to band together and negotiate with school or league officials if their equipment and team apparel requirements are too pricey.
“Don’t be afraid to challenge many of the things going on in your existing league,” she says, pointing out that parents shouldn’t feel locked in to buying one particular item at a single retail outlet since it lessens the likelihood that they’re getting the best price.