If you’re anything like me, you like to fire up your grill all year round. Some pastimes—such as skiing, ice skating, professional sports— might be confined to certain seasons, but as far as I’m concerned, grilling isn’t one of them.
That said, when it comes to actually purchasing a grill, it’s a good idea to do some market research beforehand. Retailers offer better prices at certain times of year, and you might be able to get a deluxe model at a lower cost than you would expect.
So when is the best time to buy a grill? Read on to find out.
Factors to Consider
Remember that the best time to buy a grill might vary, based on a number of factors. Where do you live? What is the climate like? Is grilling a year-round activity for most of your neighbors? Most importantly, how often do you plan on using your grill?
When you know what you want to get out of your purchase, you’ll be able to score a better deal. That’s why we’ve included information about the different grill types in Choose a Grill Type, below.
Set Your Budget
It’s always a good idea to work out a budget before you start shopping, no matter what the product. If you’re trying to save money on a grill, this step is especially important.
Don’t be tempted to stray too far above your price range, even if you spot a great deal from a reputable manufacturer. If you can’t afford to pay the price, then it’s not such a good deal for you, no matter how appealing the grill might be.
Making the choice to go over budget can be a slippery slope–you might end up spending several hundred dollars more than you intended, which could lead to buyer’s remorse in a hurry. The point is to enjoy your grill, not beat yourself up about how much you spent on it.
Choose a Grill Type
The instant gratification provided by quality gas grills is tough to beat, even for the most enthusiastic BBQ fan. They’re easy to find, fairly inexpensive to maintain, and generally reliable. They’re also simple to use, which is a huge perk if you’re new to the grilling lifestyle.
As a rule, gas grills are more expensive than their charcoal-fueled cousins. However, because they can be fired up at a moment’s notice, there’s a good chance you’ll get more use out of them.
The first kettle-style charcoal grill was invented in 1952 by George Stephen, who worked as a welder for Weber Brothers Metal Works at the time. He was reportedly inspired by the shapes of the buoys he encountered in his work there. Since then, charcoal grilling has become a popular pastime.
We love the flavor that charcoal brings to a good barbecue, although we admit that the ashes can be a pain to deal with. On the plus side, this type of grill is much cheaper than the competition.
Pellet grills and smokers are a relatively new invention. They require electricity to power the auger, which is what feeds the pellets into the firebox. They also represent a sizable investment, even if you choose a lower-priced model.
A pellet grill offers maximum smoke flavor. You can even choose between different types of wood pellets for a customized grilling experience. Be forewarned, however, that these grills can be quite temperamental, even if you do everything right.
When Not To Buy
If you walk into a big-box store sometime in the early spring, there’s a good chance that you’ll find a lot of grills on display. Companies know that this is when people get the urge to start cooking outdoors, and they try to make the prospect as appealing as possible by prominently showcasing their products.
However, early spring is actually the worst time to think about buying a new grill. Because so many people are going to buy them around this time anyway, there’s no incentive for the stores to offer good deals.
The Best Time To Buy a Grill
So when should you begin looking for a new grill?
As a rule, you’ll find the best prices towards the end of the grilling season, usually in late summer or fall. At this point, the stores want to move the products out to make room for winter equipment, resulting in a significant markdown in pricing. Sometimes, waiting until the end of the season to make a purchase can save you as much as 70 percent of the initial listed price.
If you aren’t sure when to start looking, here’s a good rule of thumb: When the Christmas merchandise begins to appear, you’re bound to get a good deal. Most of the time, retailers will dedicate the same floor space to all seasonal merchandise, and grills qualify as seasonal for most people.
If you miss out in the early fall, don’t fret. These sales will typically continue throughout the early winter, or possibly later depending on where you live. Should you have any trouble finding what you need at your local store, try an online search.
While late summer through the day after Thanksgiving (called “Black Friday” in retail parlance) is the best time to buy a grill, there are other times when you might be able to get a great grill at an affordable price. Here’s when to look.
After Memorial Day
A lot of people will want to haul out their grills for the unofficial start to the summer season–the last Monday in May, which is also Memorial Day in the US. When the day has passed, the demand will grow higher still, especially if people have found that their units suffered damage through the long months of storage.
Take a look around the stores in the week or two following Memorial Day to see if the prices have dropped. Because the stores know that many people will be spending their money on grills at this time, they may find that it’s in their best interests to offer enticing sales.
This is especially true if you’re buying a gas grill, as this is the most popular grill type in the US. It’s also good advice for people who live in colder climates, since your neighbors are more likely to put their grills in storage for the winter.
Be forewarned that while you might be able to get a good deal on an older model, this isn’t the best time to expect sale prices for the newer gas grills. The stores will want to shuffle out the old inventory first.
Fortunately, the reputable grill companies are updating their models all the time, so even the slightly older ones are bound to include some great features. As long as the grill has everything you need, it shouldn’t matter what year it was released.
Even if you don’t decide to purchase a new grill at this time, let this serve as a reminder to perform a checkup and maintenance routine. Inspect your gas lines for damage and check the cooking grates for rust. Also, make sure you have enough fuel to make it through the start of the grilling season.
After July 4th
If Memorial Day serves as the traditional start to the grilling season, the Fourth of July indicates its peak. In fact, more Americans eat hot dogs on this day than on any other day of the year–and the majority of those wieners are probably cooked outdoors.
What does this mean for grill sales? Well, first of all, it means you shouldn’t expect to find any good deals in the week or so leading up to the holiday. As in the early spring, retailers know that people will already be buying them.
That said, once the holiday is over, the prime grilling season typically lasts only a few more months. At this time, prices may go down as the stores prepare to make room for their autumn-themed merchandise.
Despite the fact that grilling is far more popular in the summer, some grills might actually be on sale during the proverbial dog days of the season.
Stores will often offer “Christmas in August” sales (or some variation thereof) in order to lure buyers in. The tactic hooks buyers by suggesting that the holidays are right around the corner, thereby tempting them to purchase more in an effort to get their shopping done early.
Post Labor Day
This is another hot tip for cold-climate dwellers: After Labor Day, which occurs on the first Monday in September, a lot of grillers are thinking of hanging up their tongs for the season. That’s excellent news if you plan on keeping your outdoor kitchen open year-round, as the big-box retailers attempt to clear out their grill inventory.
Keep your eyes peeled for Labor Day sales as the weekend approaches. Often, the stores will keep them going for a full week, or at least until the following Saturday. Make sure you know how long the sale will last when you’re making your plans.
Note that if you live in the South, you’ll probably have a longer wait if you’re looking for lower prices. The grilling season can extend into November in states like Florida, and some die-hards (like us) never put their grills into storage.
We’ve established that post-Labor Day through Black Friday are the best times to look for grill sales. However, the day after Thanksgiving itself can be a shopper’s paradise if you know what you’re doing.
For the lowest prices, consider buying your grill on Black Friday. If you shop through online retailers, you might even be able to score free shipping–a huge perk, considering the weight and bulk of these packages.
In fact, we would recommend looking online for the best Black Friday deals. Most brick-and-mortar stores won’t have their grills on display at this time, particularly in northern climates. People just don’t associate grilling with the holiday season–which is even better news for those of us who are obsessed with it.
Similarly, grilling isn’t on most people’s minds during the coldest season of the year. That means it’s not really the best time to purchase a grill in a store.
However, if you look online, you may be able to find some good prices. Retailers may want to move their older inventory along to make way for the newest models, which will go on display in the spring. Units that are designed for indoor grilling are particularly hot during this time. Accessories are also typically cheaper in the winter.
While some seasons are definitely better than others, you’ll find that there are more good times to buy a grill than there are bad ones. A keen understanding of the market and a sense of patience are all that you really need. When you know what you’re looking for, you should be able to find a grill you love at a price you can afford.
Best of luck in your search, and happy grilling!