Memorial Day is May 25 this year, and the accompanying weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season. And like most major holidays, it brings with it a flood of deals and bargains. But unlike most holiday promotions, Memorial Day sales have a reputation for living up to their hype — that is, as long as you know what to buy.
To pick the best deals, you'll want to avoid buying any summer items. Though it may seem tempting, BBQ grills, patio furniture, and summer apparel should remain off limits because you'll be paying a premium for these items, which will see their lowest prices at the end of the summer.
So what should you shop for on Memorial Day? We've created a quick guide to help you spot the best bargains.
Sales Will Start Early Again This Year
Although the holiday is next week, Memorial Day sales have already started popping up. For the past two years, Memorial Day sales have commenced on May 12 and lasted through the last day of the month. In previous years we've seen some sales bleed into the first days of June, but you shouldn't count on that to happen again this year. That means if you see a sale that appeals to you and your budget, buy it because it's very likely you won't get that chance until the next major holiday, which is July 4th.
Clothing Deals Are Great, But Don't Shop Without a Coupon
Of all the items you'll see on sale throughout May, spring apparel will dominate, representing 64% of all Memorial Day deals. Expect to see sales from Macy's, H&M, Old Navy, 6pm.com, and Eddie Bauer with discounts ranging from 40% to 90% off. Designer brands such as Ralph Lauren, Steve Madden, and Calvin Klein will also hold sales of their own with 30% to 75% off.
However, the real star of most Memorial Day sales isn't just the initial discount, but the stackable coupons that usually come with these sales. For instance, of all the Memorial Day clothing deals we saw last year, more than half featured stackable discounts, usually promo codes that take an additional price cut.
SEE ALSO: The Best and Worst Things to Buy in May
The coupons themselves took an extra 15% to 40% off already-discounted items. Original Penguin, for instance, took 50% off select men's apparel and then stacked on two additional coupons for an extra 20% off and free shipping. These types of sales are rampant throughout May, so our top recommendation for bargain hunters is to wait for sales that feature multiple or stackable coupons.
Look for Coupons on More Than Just Clothes
Fortunately, the stackable coupons aren't exclusive to apparel. In previous years, we've seen appliances, beauty items, and even furniture enjoy the added benefit of stackable discounts. On non-apparel deals, expect stackable coupons to take an extra 5% to 30% off sale items.
Sitewide Sales on Tech Will Be Everywhere
Outside of apparel, Memorial Day also has plenty of tech deals, which account for 14% of all sales. The sales tend to be sitewide discounts taking 50% to 85% off a selection of devices such as tablets, laptops, TVs, and other electronics.
However, we recommend shoppers proceed with caution when it comes to TVs and laptops. TVs are generally much cheaper toward the end of the year, whereas laptop deals tend to improve throughout the summer as back-to-school sales start kicking in.
Also, Apple fans should take note, although Apple has already refreshed most of its MacBook Pro and MacBook Air line, Apple's back-to-school sale won't start until June. That means students (and non-students) will see better MacBook deals in the months to come, both from the Apple Store and its authorized resellers. Consumers should also keep in mind that Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference is slated for June 8th. Although no laptops are slated to be announced, it wouldn't hurt to delay any major Apple computer purchase until after the event.
Should you need to make a TV purchase, look for deals on 55" or 42" sets. Last year, these sizes saw the most Editors' Choice deals during the month of May. For the former, look for deals in the $550 range (an off-brand model should cost roughly $100 less), whereas a solid 42" TV deal should set you back about $300 (an off-brand model should cost about $50 less).
A Great Time to Book Travel
If you don't already have travel plans for Memorial Day, perhaps you can use this time to book future travel. In the previous two years, we've spotted a handful of noteworthy Memorial Day travel sales from the likes of Travelocity, Hotels.com, and Qatar Airways.
Last year, Travelocity took 40% off select hotel deals with an extra $50 to $100 off, whereas Hotels.com took 50% off select hotels with an extra $50 off. Meanwhile, Qatar held a brief weekend sale taking 20% off international economy flights and 10% off international business flights. Such discounts are rare from this airline, but it wouldn't be too surprising if they, and other travel booking sites, repeated the same discounts again this year.
Give Your Old Mattress a Break
DealNews data has shown that May is one of the best months for purchasing a new mattress. Expect retailers like Sears, US-Mattress, JCPenney, and Overstock to take 50% off their selection of mattresses. Standout deals will take an extra 10% to 40% off already-discounted prices. For the past two years, Groupon has also taken up to 83% off a selection of mattresses as part of its Memorial Day sale. Stackable coupons have taken an extra 10% off those prices.
Shipping can get easily increase the cost of any mattress purchase, but fortunately the majority of mattress sales this month feature free shipping. Should you come across a sale that doesn't, look for coupons or special promotions that qualify you for free shipping. Alternatively, you can always opt for in-store pick-up to dodge the high cost of having a mattress shipped to you. (Be sure to read our previous feature on how to buy a mattress for additional tips on picking a good mattress).
With our guidelines above, navigating through this year's Memorial Day sales should be easy. Enjoy the sales, the extended weekend, and above all remember to honor the men and women who gave their lives for our country.