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Why You Should Add Snowsuits To Your Back-To-School Shopping List

Now's the time for your pick of sizes, styles, and deals.

It can be painful enough to buy sweaters, long pants, and closed-toed shoes for your kids during the glorious last few weeks of summer without thinking about — ugh! — snowsuits.

Shouldn't we all still be wearing bathing suits and eating freezies while frolicking through the sprinkler, after all?

But by late August, some thrifty parents have already started buying their child's winter gear in order to get the best deals and their pick of the sizes on new and used items. And, a number of stores start their snowsuit promotions while it's still hot enough outside for ice cream cones to melt.

According to some parents and retailers, now is the time to start bargain hunting.

Getting the best 'used' deal starts early

Ottawa mom Michelle Legault, who has a 20-month-old son, has started looking for snowsuits in August for the past two years.

"I've noticed that that's when they start popping up on second-hand swaps, groups and websites. I like getting a head start, hoping that I won't be stuck in November having to buy new because I haven't found anything used that fits our needs," Legault told Huffpost Canada in an online interview.

People selling used snowsuits on Facebook Marketplace in August.
People selling used snowsuits on Facebook Marketplace in August.

Legault had posted "in search of" ads on a few local Facebook swap groups, reached out on Facebook Marketplace, and her next step would have been Kijiji. In the end, she nabbed two MEC Toaster Suits on Facebook Marketplace for less than it would cost to get one new, and also scored a fleece Columbia bunting suit for her son to wear safely in the car seat.

"I'd heard that finding a MEC Toaster Suit second-hand was competitive, but I had no issues," she said.

Snowsuit deals in summer aren't hard to find

A quick search of some major cities on Facebook Marketplace shows a wide selection of used snowsuits posted for sale in Halifax, the Montreal area, Ottawa, Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, the Calgary area, and in and around Vancouver in the last few days alone. Popular children retailer Carter's is already selling their winter-wear in store and online. Joe Fresh has parkas in stock, and L.L. Bean has most of their winter jackets on sale now.

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) has snowsuits available online as early as July, and starts selling them in-store in late August, Grace Cordero, MEC Kids Planner, told HuffPost Canada in an email interview from Vancouver.

"If you buy your kid's snowsuit early, you have access to all the sizes and styles," Cordero said. "We've seen more snowsuits bought this summer versus last summer, so parents may be trying to avoid the rush before the cold weather hits."

MEC's Toaster Suit retails for $145.
MEC's Toaster Suit retails for $145.

While Cordero noted that MEC's snowsuits typically go on sale around Black Friday or closer to school holidays in December, waiting that long might leave you disappointed.

"MEC sold out of our MEC Label snowsuits before the holiday season last year, so very little to no discounts were applied," she said.

Consignment stores often try to keep pace with retail trends, so it's not unusual to see snowsuits and winter-wear on shelves in resale stores around back-to-school time, said Janet Ferreira, franchise owner for Ottawa-based Boomerang Kids' Westboro location. Plus, parents are already in a shopping and organizing frame of mind this time of year, Ferreira told HuffPost Canada in a phone interview.

"They're thinking 'well, if I'm buying for back to school, I might as well buy a snowsuit'," Ferreira said.

"For those savvy parents, they do start snatching them up in September."

But don't forget: kids grow

One concern with buying your growing kid a snowsuit in August? Who knows what size they'll be wearing in December. And April, for that matter (isn't Canada the best?).

"Make sure your snowsuit has a good return policy so if you buy it in August and it ends up being too small by the time cold weather hits, you can exchange it before your kids need to use it," Cordero said.

Ferreira recommends parents actually buy two snowsuits for this reason, and also because inevitably, one of them will always be wet. You can have your "good snowsuit," and your "weekend snowsuit," Ferreira said.

That's why, to be safe, Legault bought two second-hand snowsuits for her son: one in size 18-24 months, and one in size 2T.

"I figure seeing as I'm buying second-hand and saving, I can get two suits in two different sizes for less than one suit at full retail. That way we're guaranteed to last the season. And either way, I plan on keeping the suits for the next (imaginary) child. One of them is bound to fit," she said.

"And worst case, their resale value is great so I feel confident that I could resell."

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