I was following that pattern, but finally gave up this year. Sam figured out that he was getting last year's version after seeing the newer one in stores and talking with friends about what they got in their calendars. I ended up just letting him open the last old one all at once over the weekend, then we kicked off with the 2014 set (which I bought at full price). I got the 5% red card discount and we had another 5% from the pharmacy, so figured I wasn't going to save much more than that.
I had a much harder time trying to track down the Lego Friends version. I'm not sure where it is carried outside of the Lego store and had trouble finding it online as well without forking over added shipping. Out of luck/fate, I happened to see it at the airport in Amsterdam during a layover for just $25 and snagged it.
I'm not sure if they are producing less or if the demand is just getting bigger. Seems like a lot of our neighborhood kids have them now, which I don't think was the case a few years back. Small sample, but they seem a lot more popular now.