In the gulch between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you might think sales are hard to come by, but the opposite is true. Shopping heats up in July, with stores offering everything from rare discounts on in-season apparel to desperately needed air conditioners.
Check out our guide below for expert advice on how to plan your purchases this month. And for more deals every single day of the month, consider signing up for the DealNews Select Newsletter, and you'll get the best deals of the day delivered right to your inbox.
4th of July Sales, Part 1: Warm-Weather Clothing
Warm-weather clothing is always one of the best buys over the 4th of July holiday, and last year's deals offered savings of up to an impressive 88% off at 6PM and up to 80% off at both JCPenney and Kohl's. However, the 50% discount we saw for select items at PacSun, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Gap, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Eddie Bauer was more typical.
4th of July Sales, Part 2: Outdoor Gear
Beyond casual wear, you'll also find good deals on all kinds of outdoor gear and apparel. Last year's most impressive deal came from Jenson USA, which offered up to 90% off bikes, biking gear, and apparel; however, you're more likely to see discounts of around 50% off at stores like Columbia, Dick's Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops, Backcountry, and Gander Mountain. Last year, outdoor-favorite Cabela's offered up to 60% off throughout the store, with good deals on camping and fishing equipment.
Sitewide swimwear deals are hot in July, even more so than in August. Last year, we saw big sales on women's swimwear at Nordstrom, PacSun, and HerRoom, as well as men's and women's swimwear at 6PM and Forever 21, as well as men's trunks at Target. Venus is also a standout brand in offering deals on individual suits and pieces throughout July and August. In general, look for women's separates for as little as $5, and men's trunks from $15.
Designer Apparel at Nordstrom Anniversary Sale
If your tastes run more high-end, check out the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale at the end of the month. Even though it's still summer, look for discounts of 25% to 50% off recently released fall lines from The North Face, Tory Burch, Ugg Australia, Rag & Bone, Burberry, Steve Madden, Cole Haan, and more.
Amazon-Brand Items on Prime Day
Enough people flocked to the inaugural Amazon Prime Day last year for the site to bring it back. And despite a lot of duds (see below), there were some good offers as well that you should look for this July 15.
The safest bets for Prime Day are Amazon-branded products. We saw discounts like 60% off Amazon Elements Baby Wipes, $15 off the Fire TV Stick, $60 off the Fire HD 7, and $50 off the Amazon Echo. Released earlier this year, both the Echo Dot and the Echo Tap may be included in the Prime Day discounts this month. (The Tap has dropped to as low as $95 in the past, whereas we've never seen the Dot on sale.)
Last-Minute 4th of July Travel
Even though it's last-minute at this point, you can still score some amazing travel deals for the upcoming holiday weekend. With gas prices so low, hopping in the car for spontaneous travel should be easier than ever. Consider heading to New York City; despite its infamously high rents, hotel prices are a whopping $60 cheaper per night in July than in August. Plus, there are always a wealth of free activities in the Big Apple, especially with outdoor concerts and events in the summer.
If NYC is too far, consider checking out a national park (perhaps with some of the outdoor gear you just picked up on sale). Or, if you don't mind buying some airfare, jet to Las Vegas for a fun long weekend. Travel app Hopper says fares to Sin City are actually cheapest just 14 days out from your travel date.
Take Advantage of the Best Air Conditioner Deals of the Summer
If you're going to buy an air conditioner this summer, do it in July. We see not only the most air conditioner deals this month when compared to June and August, but the most Editors' Choice deals. By comparison, August of last year had very few air conditioner sales.
It'd be very tempting to snatch up an Xbox One right now, as the MSRP has officially dropped twice in two weeks, from $349 to $279. But before you jump on that blanket discount, know that we've seen the console for as little as $259 in just the last few months, and those deals often came with bundled games to boot. Plus, a new Xbox has already been announced, and it's available for preorder. That means the cheaper Xbox One is soon to be replaced, which is a con for any gamer who wants the latest hardware, as well as a boon for patient deal shoppers — the Xbox One will probably get even cheaper once the new model hits stores on August 31. Buying an Xbox One in July just doesn't make sense.
Older Apple Devices
Apple just announced new operating systems for all of their platforms, but not all devices are eligible for updates. For example, if you have an iPad 1, 2, 3, or mini, an iPhone 4s or older, or a MacBook from 2009 or before, you won't be able to take advantage of the latest Apple software.
These older devices still provide a great value for some, and they will continue to function with the older OSs. Be aware that, as iOS 10 and Sierra become the new standard, developers will likely shift their efforts to the needs of an ecosystem you can't access on older devices. In some cases, that might make your purchase feel outdated sooner than you'd like.
Filler Items During Amazon Prime Day
Many were severely disappointed by Amazon's inaugural Prime Day last year, with the best deals selling out in seconds. Though we saw many amazing prices on electronics on Prime Day, many sold out before they were even open to the general public. (The aforementioned Amazon tech items excluded.) Some deals were on strange items like krill oil pills or furniture-moving slings. So while there will be some great deals, we urge shoppers to avoid impulse buys on such filler items.
With some college students headed to campus in just a few weeks, it's true that back-to-school sales heat up this month. However, our data shows that laptop deals are much better in August; prices consistently drop as much as 25% further. Last summer, we saw laptops with current-gen Broadwell i5 processors for as little as $450, in the weeks just before the Skylake chips were introduced. So expect to see Skylake laptops drop to that price range again this August, especially if a new generation is introduced again.
HDTVs remain a don't-buy item for the month of July. Deals on HDTVs are scarce during the summer and this month will be no exception. Nevertheless, we understand sometimes you simply can't wait for the right deal to come along. If you fall into that category, we recommend a name-brand 55" TV. These sets have dropped even further since their $500 plateau last year; they're now regularly available for around $450. (This might be because 4K sets are becoming more mainstream.)