Late each summer, we start seeing lots of marketing of season-end triathlon gear sales. Triathlon wetsuits, bikes, suits, and other gear seem to all have big clearance sales. We occasionally get the question “when is the best time to buy a wetsuit”. While we’re not sure there is a definitive answer, here are our thoughts.
You can find incredible wetsuit deals at nearly every time of the year. Early in the season, retailers usually have prior-year carryover models that they are trying to sell at nice discounts, and internet retailers are jockeying for price position so they are offering good bargains. Late in the season, you will find more of the season-end closeouts on current year’s models, so it might be a slightly better time to buy for gear-junkies for whom it is a big deal to have current-year’s models.
The rise of internet gear retailers has taken much of the seasonality out of wetsuit, bike and other triathlon gear prices. Many of the retailers have business models that rely on getting surplus gear and selling it at rock-bottom prices. In addition, we have found that online retailers often find many reasons per year to offer their customers nice discounts, such as Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day sales, and of course the holiday season.
At brick-and-mortar retailers, there might be a bit more of a seasonal cycle because of the need to stock gear in a finite amount of space. You may often see more aggressive pricing late in the season as they know they need to make room for the next year’s inventory. Wetsuits don’t take up nearly the space of, say, bikes, so this effect can vary from store to store based on how they manage their stock.
In general, our advice is always to buy the wetsuit you want, and that will work best for you for a long time, rather than simply price shop. When you think that your wetsuit might last you for many years, dozens of races, and hundreds of swims, there is no need to fixate on saving $20 just because a particular suit is on closeout. In the long run, you will be glad you bought the right wetsuit for you.