Smart Spending

Reporter: Natalie Bonjolo

Plasmas, fridges, microwaves, furniture. When it comes to big ticket items, when is the best time to buy? Next month, or wait until after Christmas? A little later, we'll reveal the smartest time to spend but first, how Perth families are holding up since the money melt down.

When words like recession and depression are bandied about people stop spending and that means retailers, start hurting.

At Fridge and Washer City, Anthony Watson is feeling the chill. Sales have plummeted 14% in two months and inquiries are down 50%.

Stores buy their products 3, 6, even 12 months in advance. Now when you think to 12 months ago, business was absolutely booming, so the retailers bought up big. Now, all that stock has hit the shelves, but times have changed. Families are no longer splashing out and that means there's a whole pile of shops, stocked with goods but no buyers. That can only mean one thing for shoppers...

If UWA marketing man, Professor Dick Mizerski is right, we're in for the 'sale of the century'.

"There are going to be more and more sales, the retailers can't eat this stuff. If you're selling washing machines, recorders, TVs and everything else, they have to go" says Dick.

Stores can't afford for big ticket items to gather dust. It costs money to keep them on the shop floor. It's Barry Urquhart's business to predict the ebbs and flows of the retail world and he reckons you should mark December 1st on your calendar.

"Come December 1st many retailers will find their supermarkets and stores are full of stock, the consumers aren't buying, they've got new season stock for summer coming on 26th December" says Barry.

Murdoch University marketing expert Dr Steve Ward believes stores are able to slash prices, because they bought when the Australian dollar was so strong. It's now slid to 68 cents, which means less bang for their buck, but here's the risk you take buying now. If the early sales don't go as well as retailers would hope, come Christmas they'll have no choice but to get rid of stock at any price.

Whether you buy now, or wait, one thing the experts agree on, there's never been a better time to bargain, but before you whip out the credit card, a word of warning."There's going to be tough times so just remember if its going to be difficult in six months do you really need that item?" says Dick.

So, if you've got it, cash is king. The gamble is when to play. Just to recap, here's what the experts say...

Barry Urquhart believes December 1st is the day.

Professor Mizerski says if you need it, buy now and you'll get a bargain, but if you can wait until Christmas, you could make a killing.

Dr Ward suggests negotiating now before the Australian dollar pushes some prices back up, but don't rule out those crazy Christmas sales.