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What to Expect from 2012 Labor Day Sales

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By Laura Heller, dealnews contributor

For most Americans, Labor Day means the end of summer, shorter daylight hours, the replacing of outdoor activities with indoor ones, and back to school for the kids. But the first Monday in September also means a lot for bargain hunters. And even though Labor Day isn't considered a consumer holiday — according to National Retail Federation Spokeswoman Kathy Grannis — retailers don't tend to miss any opportunity to offer "holiday" sales. And this Labor Day is no exception.

End of season blowout sales will indeed offer deep discounts on summer clearance merchandise: BBQs and grills and gardening supplies will reach rock bottom prices before being shipped off to a warehouse or consolidator, never to be seen again. Patio furniture prices, too, will plummet. And we anticipate seeing markdowns on school supplies, apparel, sporting goods, home appliances, and electronics.

Back to School Sales

Labor Day sales on back-to-school supplies including apparel and dorm goods will bring these items to their final markdowns of the season. In 2011, retailers didn't tally up strong back-to-school sales until September, which is unusual for the industry. And this year too, merchants are seeing the same late comers shopping for back to school. But those folks who have put off picking up a new backpack or school supplies should know that despite the back to school sales being slow, pickings are still slim around this time of ear, as continued low prices have caused products to really move.

Apparel

When it comes to seasonal apparel, Labor Day is filled with end of season sales. And while last year many shoppers held off buying apparel until after school started, department stores are stocked and ready to offer steep discounts. For example, Labor Day at Macy's brings discounts of up to 50% off women's and kids' apparel, and up to 75% off menswear.

But fall fashion is fresh and likely won't see its best prices until October and November when retailers start clearing space for holiday displays. Instead, stock up on end of season summer clothes, as these items are at some of their best prices of the year.

Sporting Goods

Another theme in many Labor Day sales is the great outdoors. As such, sporting goods, hunting equipment, and fishing and camping gear move into the spotlight. And though summer may be nearing its end, many outdoor activities are far from over. REI's Labor Day Sale started August 24 and runs through September 3 and is offering customers up to 30% off outdoor gear and clothing. Backcountry's semi-annual "Let The Gear Hoarding Begin" sale began early too, taking up to 50% off hundreds of items from paddle sport and camping gear, to bikes and fitness apparel.

Likewise Cabelas is clearing out summer sports gear during its Labor Day Sale. Not to be outdone, Bass Pro's Labor Day Sale is going big with up to 60% off items that range from ATV gear to hunting equipment. And a Labor Day sale at Gander Mountain means 40% off hunting and fishing gear.

Home Goods and Appliances

Starting small, but offering big discounts, Labor Day sales from the likes of Kohl's and Sears offer discounts via coupons on home goods, appliances, bedding, and bath needs ranging from at least 30% to 70% off. For bigger ticket items like kitchen appliances, Best Buy is a good bet. Its Labor Day Sale is slashing 10% to 25% off major appliances, plus taking an additional 5% off when consumers use a Best Buy credit card. We're also seeing free installation offers from the retailer, particularly on all dishwashers and microwaves on sale. What's more, beginning September 2, we expect to see even more savings across the store, including on televisions, cameras, and computers.

Electronics

Speaking of electronics, we're poised to see considerable savings from newegg's Labor Day Blowout Sale, which includes sale prices on HDTVs, cameras, speakers, and video games. Newsletter subscribers got a heads up on August 28 — alerting them to more than 100 products on sale through September 3 — but everyone can enjoy savings of up to 65% off on electronics including camcorders and home theater equipment. hhgregg, too, is taking at least 33% HDTVs and appliances, and bumping an extra 5% off items priced at $499 or greater when customers use an hhgregg credit card.

While retailers like Fry's, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and Sears are closely guarding specific Labor Day deals until the weekend is actually here, wany consumers are getting a jump on these sales and deals online. Some merchants, notably Fry's and Sears, have launched pre-Labor Day sales that run through tomorrow or even Saturday in order to entice shoppers both online and in-store before their Monday sales. No matter how you slice it, though, we expect to see some solid Labor Day sales on a variety of consumer goods both in-store and online.

Front page photo credit: Fox Honda
Photo credits top to bottom: JL Sporting Goods, Viva Visos, and Engadget


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Laura Heller is a freelance writer based in Chicago who specializes in mass market retail trends and consumer electronics industries. You can follow her on Twitter @lfheller.

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Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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