Update: We've written a newer version of this guide! Check out our predictions for what to expect for 2015 Labor Day sales.
Summer's last hurrah is almost upon us, but before you fire up the grill for one last cookout, you may want to jump online: September typically begins with a wave of discounts thanks to the culmination of back-to-school, end-of-summer, and Labor Day sales. We analyzed last year's trends along with current summer sales to find out what kind of bargains should you look for this Labor Day weekend.
Back-to-School Deals Come to a CloseAlthough most students are already in school by September, solid back-to-school bargains can still be found during the first half of the month. Last year, Lenovo, J&R, and newegg each extended their back-to-school sales through the first week of September, inclusive of Labor Day. Lenovo, which took 15% off its ThinkPads, featured laptops starting at $494, which at the time was among the lowest prices we had seen for such systems. However, the longer you wait, the smaller your chances are of scoring a deal. Pickings will be slim, so make sure to act fast if you see something you need.
The Best Summer Apparel SalesAlong with shorter days, September also brings cooler weather, which means stores need to sell off their inventory of summer apparel to make room for fall fashion. For shoppers, that equals serious discounts on summer clothes. Last year during Labor Day weekend, Wet Seal, Macy's, Oakley Vault, and PacSun led the charge with discounts ranging from 30% to a whopping 85% off.
And although you may be tempted by the volume of fall apparel sales out there, September is actually one of the worst times to buy autumn clothes, as you'll pay in-season prices. Instead we recommend using Labor Day weekend to stock up on summer essentials for next year like shorts, polos, and swimwear, and snatching up anything that transitions well into the fall.
Patio Furniture and Grills Hit All-Time Lows
You may not think of September as a popular month for BBQs and picnics, but generally speaking, the weather is still fairly warm and with little to no humidity, so it's actually not a bad month for outdoor events. Luckily, we will soon be seeing some of the best deals of the year for grills and accessories. Look for Labor Day sales from Home Depot, Target, Lowe's, Sears, and Kohl's, all of which discounted their outdoor appliances last September from 15% off (Kohl's) to 50% off (Lowe's). Price-wise, last year we saw 2-burner gas grills for as low as $57, and 19-piece BBQ grill tool sets from $15.
Patio furniture will also be heavily discounted; you'll see sales from retailers like Target and Sears, each of which took up to 60% off their stock of outdoor furniture last Labor Day. However, Kmart stole the show last year by slashing up to 90% off its collection of outdoor items, including patio chairs and tables.
Rest Easy on a New Mattress: Deals Up to 50% Off
Mattresses also see steep discounts on Labor Day, beating the sales we see on both Memorial Day and July 4th. Expect discounts of up to 50% off from retailers like US-Mattress and Sears. Price-wise, deals will begin around $289 with free shipping via white glove delivery, which means you won't have to beg your friends to help you lug your purchase up the stairs!
High-End Brands Also See Discounts
Although they didn't account for the majority of sales, last year we did see a fair amount of deals from high-end brands such as Brooks Brothers, Williams-Sonoma, Restoration Hardware, and Anne Klein, each of which took 60%, 30%, 20%, and 25% off select merchandise, respectively. These sales generally ended on or immediately after Labor Day, so don't expect them to resurface later in the month. Of the bunch, Williams-Sonoma's sale was the most noteworthy, as it was the biggest sale we had seen to date, earning the promotion a dealnews Editors' Choice badge.
What to Expect from 2013 Labor Day Sales
Remember, this Labor Day we recommend shoppers look for bargains on summer apparel and outdoor furniture, as these items will make up most Labor Day sales — and they'll offer the biggest discounts. Sales will begin the weekend before Labor Day with the best sales ending on or soon after September 2. Mattresses will also see all-time lows, many of which will ship with free white glove delivery. For tech, you'll want to act fast and catch the tail end of back-to-school sales.
And remember, even if you miss out on a deal this month, Black Friday is officially a stone's throw away, bringing with it the year's best discounts and sales.
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