When to buy your winter coat - and how to get anything for less

How to get the best deal

Image winter coat hanging on the rack in the store

Summer's well and truly over, there's a real nip in the air, and that light trench coat won't really cut it for much longer. But if you're in the market for a new winter coat, should you buy one now - or hang on a little longer to get a better deal?

"The best time to go shopping for your designer wool winter coat would be at the end of spring. During this time the stores are clearing out their inventory and putting away those they want to keep for next winter," advises eBay. "The prices are at the best they will ever be and are sometimes discounted as much as 85% in some instances compared to other times. Also, during this period if you ask the managers for a further discount because of minor damage etc you can even get a better price. They are eager to get these coats sold."

Unfortunately, this requires rather more foresight than most of us are capable of - and means that you won't get to wear your new purchase for months.

If, then, you need to buy your new coat while the weather's actually cold enough to wear it, it might be best to wait until after Christmas. Many stores carry out a big inventory in January or February, and do their best to clear the shelves as much as possible first.

If you cannot wait, it's worth trying five steps - which will help you get a bargain on almost anything - regardless of the time of year.

1. If you can't manage to shop during the sales, it's worth checking whether you can find a voucher online: VoucherCodes is always worth a try. We've got a few discounts on coats ourselves here, too.

2. You can also sign up for retailers' newsletters or follow them on Facebook, and you'll get sent discount deals when they come up.

3. Sites such as Hotukdeals.com and Latestdeals.com let shoppers share bargains they've stumbled upon, so keep your eyes peeled or sign up for alerts if you're after something specific.

4. Many people ask student relatives to buy things on their behalf using an NUS card to secure a discount - and, as we reported recently, you may even be able to get an NUS card yourself, without actually needing to study.

5. And, finally, it's often worth haggling, in-store or even via email - you never know your luck.

Shopping: when spending more isn't always better

Shopping: when spending more isn't always better