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The Best and Worst Things to Buy in September

Labor Day and back-to-school sales will kick off the new month, whereas Apple's rumored keynote could bring a wave of deals on iPhones and iPads.
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September is an exciting month for bargain hunters. Not only does it bring us one step closer to the holiday season — which is the best time of year for many big-ticket items — but this month is also a great time to stock up on a variety of items, thanks to a small overlap in Labor Day, summer clearance, and back-to-school sales. So while the end of summer may be upon us, the best deals of the year are only now just beginning.

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Labor Day Sales Will Discount All Summer Apparel

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. That means all summer-related goods from swimwear to patio furniture will be at their lowest prices of the year. Expect to see sales from all major retailers such as Gap, REI, and Puma. Last year, the most notable sales (i.e. sales marked Editors' Choice) came from Abercrombie and The Children's Place, which took 60% and 65% off sitewide, respectively.

Last September we also saw a surprising amount of deals on designer clothes. Neiman Marcus, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, and Calvin Klein were just a few of the name-brand designers that took between 20% to 86% off their apparel. For suits and work clothes, you can expect high-end retailers like Brooks Brothers and Club Monaco to discount up to 60% off sitewide. Club Monaco went so far as to take an extra 40% off sale items. For a closer look at Labor Day sales, check out our Labor Day buying guide.

New iPhones on the Horizon

September wouldn't be the same without Apple's fall keynote. This year, rumors indicate Apple could unveil its new iPhones and iPads simultaneously. In either case, if you want to take advantage of the best bargains, look for sales that discount the previous generation iPhone or iPad — since that's where you'll find the deepest price cuts — rather than the just-released model.

For instance, on the day of the keynote, Apple will shave $100 off the subsidized cost of an iPhone 6. In the weeks that follow, you can expect retailers (such as eBay, Walmart, and Best Buy) to offer iPhone 6 deals with prices around $50 (with a 2-year contract). For unlocked models, you'll find the best deals on eBay where prices for an unlocked iPhone 6 could hit $500 (it's been around $610 all summer). Remember, you can always sell your old iPhone to help offset the cost of a new unlocked model or you can check out our full list of iPhone 6 buying strategies to find the best deals.

However, don't expect to see deals on the unlocked "iPhone 6s" until November. Even then, you can expect to see only modest discounts that take $10 off the full price of the phone, or discounts that bundle a free $50 Apple Gift Card with the purchase of an "unlocked iPhone 6s" at full price.

iPad Air 2 Will See Discounts Galore

The iPad Air 2 has been the most aggressively-discounted iPad to date, dropping as low as $359 this summer. Should Apple name a successor to this tablet, you can expect retailers to drop prices below $359. As for the alleged upcoming iPad Air 3, it could see discounts of $40 off within its first few weeks in the market.

Deals on the iPad mini Retina 3, should there be one, will be harder to find. Nevertheless, based on last year's price cuts, you can expect the old iPad mini 3 to sell for around $275 on the week of the Retina 4's announcement. Meanwhile, the new Retina 4 could see a modest $20 price cut from retailers within days of its release.


Fire Up the Grill One Last Time

September offers the best deals on grills and BBQ-related utensils. Although BBQs are generally associated with the summer, the less humid autumn weather may actually provide a more ideal climate for your backyard soirees, so rest assured that any investment you make this month you'll still be able to use in the coming weeks. Look for sitewide sales from Sears and Target that take 25% to 60% off various charcoal- and gas-based grills. Discounted brands will include Kenmore, Weber, Char-Broil, and La Hacienda. To compliment your new grill, also look for accessory sales from Target and Sur La Table, which last year slashed prices on grilling equipment by up to 75%.

While you're at it, September is also a great month to upgrade your patio furniture. You'll find major sales from department stores like Target and Pier 1 Imports with discounts ranging from 25% to 50% off. Stores such as Home Depot will also discount outdoor tools and appliances, such as leaf blowers, with deals starting as low as $28. And while you may see a few air conditioner deals in the $250 range, you're better off buying your AC unit in May or July when you'll see a bigger variety of deals and prices starting from $180.

Get Your Coffee Freebies and Discounts

Coffee is one of the most beloved morning beverages, so it's no surprise that it has its own holiday. September 29 is National Coffee Day and to celebrate food chains across the country will offer free or discounted cups of coffee to their customers. Last year, we saw freebies (no purchase required) from major chains like McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme, and Wawa. Most of the freebie deals will last all day, so you can have your morning and evening coffee fix on the house. Alternatively, Tim Horton's and Starbucks will offer discounts on their premium roasts with prices as low as $1.

32" TV Deals Will Dominate

September is traditionally a stellar month for deals on 32" 1080p HDTVs. Not only will deals be abundant for this category, but they'll be at the lowest prices of the year. Last year, they hit $162, but considering we've already seen prices as low as $160 this year, it's likely this month they'll drop comfortably under the $160 threshold. Outside of 32" TVs, off-brand 55" 1080p LCD HDTVs have been holding steady at $400 since the start of the summer. Otherwise, we'd recommend waiting until November for all other TV purchases.

Autumn Mattress Sales Could Match Spring Deals

Mattress deals are generally at their best during the months of April and May, when retailers add stackable coupons to their already-existing sales. However, we've noticed an uptick in mattress deals last month. US-Mattress, Overstock, and Sears in particular had noteworthy sales taking 50% off select mattresses with an extra 10% to 40% off via a stackable coupon. That's on par with the best mattress deals we see in April and May.

Make Your Laptop Purchase at the Start of the Month

If you're in the market for a new laptop, make your purchase early in the month to take advantage of lingering back-to-school sales. Our deal data shows that for the past two summers, laptop prices typically drop an extra 8% to 25% in early September. It's likely the Microsoft Store will again offer the most aggressive deals on Windows laptops, with prices ranging from $350 to $400 for a mainstream 15" laptop with Intel's latest Core i5 Broadwell CPU, at least 4GB of RAM, and at least a 500GB hard drive.

For Apple users, we recommend bypassing the Apple Store's back-to-school sale, which this year offers a free pair of Beats Solo2 On-Ear headphones to qualifying students, and looking for Mac deals at Best Buy or eBay. There you'll find the 2015 MacBook Air 11" Laptop for around $749. Otherwise, Micro Center typically slashes the 2014 model to $700 with in-store pickup.

Now is a Great Time for Appliance Purchases, but November Will Be Better

Labor Day tends to offer excellent deals on large appliances with sales that take up to 54% off items such as dishwashers and refrigerators. However, if you can wait until November, Black Friday will offer better sales with discounts that take up to 75% off the same items. On average, about 35% of Black Friday appliance deals are marked Editors' Choice — only 15% of deals see that distinction throughout the rest of the year.

Save on Your Back-to-School Expenses

Many students will head to college for the first time this September, and while it may be too late to apply for new scholarships, there are still many ways you can cut down your college expenses. For instance, these days students can find cheap college textbooks online, by either comparison shopping or using social media to trade/borrow books from other students in their college. The earlier you begin your search, the greater your chances of scoring a deal. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, textbook prices have increased 9% in the past year alone, so any discount you're able to find can impact your budget.


Senior Features Writer

With over a decade of experience covering technology, Louis Ramirez has written for CNET, Laptop, Gizmodo, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @louisramirez.
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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