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The Best and Worst Things to Buy in May

Get non-traditional gifts for Mom, spring clothing sales for Memorial Day, and more this month.

From Mother's Day to Memorial Day, May is a busy month for retailers and shoppers alike. In addition to being the unofficial start of the summer, it also marks the time of year when we start spending more time outdoors, and that can lead to additional spending. But before you purchase a new grill or try on any summer apparel, you'll want to read our guide, which points out some of the best (and worst) products you can buy this month.

Peruse the advice, then consider signing up for the DealNews Select Newsletter to get the best deals delivered to your inbox every day.

Spring Clothing Shines During Early Memorial Day Sales

In 2015, we saw retailers kick off their Memorial Day sales as early as 11 days before the holiday. Travel sites started their discounts even earlier, in the first or second week of the month. As such, we expect store sales to begin as early as May 19 this year, with travel promos throughout the entire month.

While many sales will attempt to tease you with deals on summer clothing, the best savings will actually be on spring apparel. (Summer apparel is always cheaper during the months of August and September, when retailers are trying to clear any inventory that consumers didn't buy.)

Spring apparel will see its deepest discounts of the year during Memorial Day weekend, and we expect to see deals from Uniqlo, Macy's, Amazon, Saks Fifth Avenue, PacSun, Sierra Trading Post, Gap, and Eddie Bauer. Look for discounts of 20% to 90% off. Meanwhile, designer brands like Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Cole Haan will also offer discounts, which will range from 30% to 50%.

SEE ALSO: What to Expect From Memorial Day Sales

However, you won't want to settle for a mere sale price, as most stores will also have coupons offering deeper discounts. Look for coupons taking up to an extra 40% off. Last year, Saks Fifth Avenue offered free shipping on some orders with a coupon, as did Eddie Bauer. Check out the coupon center for promos from your favorite stores, and be sure to peruse our entire Memorial Day sales guide.

Memorial Day Also Brings Great Discounts on Home Goods

Last year, 27% of all Memorial Day weekend sales were focused on home items, including appliances, kitchen supplies, and furniture.

If you want to prepare your home or yard for summer, Lowe's and Home Depot will likely have discounts of up to 50% and 34% off, respectively. Meanwhile, Williams-Sonoma and Chef's Catalog will be cutting prices by 60% and 70%, respectively. Also look for big sales from Sears, JCPenney, and Cymax.

Save Money by Avoiding Stereotypical Mother's Day Gifts

The longer you wait to buy your Mother's Day gifts, the more you'll pay. In previous years, our deal database has shown that jewelry deals tend to increase in price at the beginning of the month, which means procrastinators will pay a premium. Fortunately, this year, has already posted its Mother's Day sale and is knocking up to an impressive 80% off with additional "buy more, save more" discounts.

Jewelry deals tend to increase in price at the beginning of the month, which means procrastinators will pay a premium for their Mother's Day gifts.

Our advice? Get your mom something that seems expensive, but isn't. Designer clothes, especially from outlet stores, often see discounts at this time of year. For example, last year a Michael Kors handbag sale was the most popular deal of the season. Fragrances are another affordable luxury, and FragranceX is ahead of the game this year; it already posted its Mom's Day sale weeks ago, cutting up to 80% off with an extra 15% off all designer scents.

Ultimately, you can never go wrong buying something you know is heavily discounted, such as items from our list of Editors' Choice deals — which include everything from apparel to tech. Also check out our full guide on how to save money on Mother's Day gifts.

Upgrade Your Mattress

Our deal archives show that spring is one of the best seasons for mattress shopping, and Memorial Day will usher in new deals this month. If you're flexible on the specific type of mattress you buy, then don't settle for anything less than 50% off. Also look for stackable coupons, which could take 10% to 40% off already-discounted items.

Retailers to follow include Sears, JCPenney, Overstock, Macy's, and US-Mattress.

Celebrate Your Inner Geek With Star Wars Sales

May 4 is Star Wars Day. (Get it? "May the fourth be with you!") This could lead to some respectable deals on Star Wars-related gear, games, and accessories. For instance, last year we saw 30% off on Star Wars items at the Disney Store, and up to 60% off Star Wars gear at Amazon. With The Force Awakens inspiring a whole new generation of fans (and revitalizing things for older ones), deals could be especially widespread this year.

Select Shoppers Can Save Money With Monthly Amazon Prime Subscriptions

Amazon announced recently that its popular Prime subscription service is now available on a monthly basis, in addition to the current plan of $99 a year upfront. There are two new options: $8.99 a month for unlimited video streaming, and full Prime benefits for $10.99 a month.

Both of these monthly plans would be more expensive over the course of a year, but they could be cheaper than a full annual subscription for those who want to quickly binge-watch a whole Amazon series, or just want free 2-day shipping for holiday shopping.

Netflix Prices Are About to Go Up

On the other hand, some Netflix users who had been grandfathered into paying lower rates are about to pay up. The streaming service will finally usher those users onto the current payscale in the coming months. For many that means an increase of $2 a month, from $7.99 and $9.99.

Many of our readers felt this is still a reasonable rate. But a few said they realized how little they were watching Netflix and canceled their subscriptions, or suspended their accounts for a few months until they wanted to watch a specific show. To find out when your rates are going up, click here.

If You Need a TV, Go With a 55" or 42" Screen

Spring is traditionally a mediocre season for TV deals. However, if you must upgrade your TV this month, we recommend opting for a 55" or 42" 1080p LED LCD. These specific size categories are seeing the most deals at the best prices. The best deals on name-brand 55" sets, for instance, have hovered around $400 since the beginning of the year. Additionally, you can save another $50 to $70 if you opt for an off-brand model, such as those from Insignia or Sceptre.

Meanwhile, name-brand 42" 1080p LCDs have gone as low as $280 in the last few months. In addition, we've seen several deals in this range for $400, but those also include a $150 gift card. While you could save between $30 to $50 by opting for an off-brand model, the savings here are less significant.

Don't Buy an Apple Laptop

Every line of MacBook is undergoing changes, and discounts will be better for all of them in just a few months or even weeks. As such, we recommend holding off on buying an Apple laptop. At their annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple is expected to introduce a new line of thinner, lighter MacBook Pros, and to completely phase out the MacBook Air. That means older models will see significant price drops.

SEE ALSO: 9 Things You Need to Know About Apple's Quiet Update to the Retina MacBook

As for the new MacBook Skylake, initial views suggest it's a fine but not game-changing update. So unless you need one right now, you're better off waiting for prices to drop. Our research indicates that current-gen MacBooks reach their lowest price about four months after release, so look for MacBooks again in August. That coincides nicely with back-to-school sales.

Hold Off on the PC Laptop Purchases, Too

Although you can currently get a 15" mainstream Intel laptop for about $380 to $400, in the coming weeks that same laptop might be 17% cheaper or include a free store credit. That's because late June traditionally marks the start of back-to-school sales, and some online offers will be available to anyone, even if shoppers don't have an .edu email address.

Ready to put this information to use? Set up an email alert or download the DealNews app in order to keep abreast of the best buys in May.


Originally from the Hudson Valley, Ben now lives in Brooklyn. He has an English degree from Harvard, and loves movies, theater, and cooking. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenDealNews and @BKGlaser.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Unless marked as a "Sponsored Deal," the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the companies mentioned. 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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