TIME Saving & Spending

What to Buy This Memorial Day (and What to Skip)

Flags flutter during re-opening ceremony for Washington Monument in Washington
May 12, 2014. Flags flutter during the re-opening ceremony for the Washington Monument in Washington. Kevin Lamarque—Reuters

Memorial Day is the kickoff to summer, and it’s also become one of the bigger shopping tentpoles for retailers to promote sales and specials. But before you leave the beach or the barbecue to hit the mall, check out what these savings sites and experts have to say about where you can expect to find the best deals and when you should hold off.

What to score

Appliances: “Items such as cookware, refrigerators and vacuums are major products to save on,” says PromotionalCodes.com. “Due to newer refrigerator models being released at the beginning of summer, older models decrease in value.” According to DealNews.com, shoppers also can clean up on small appliances like vacuums. During Sears’ Memorial Day sale last year, “We saw a Dyson vacuum price low that wasn’t beaten for another five months,” DealNews says.

Car-related items: “Car owners can save a fortune on oil, batteries, parts and washing materials during Memorial Day weekend,” PromotionalCodes says. Expect service stores to lower costs on a ton of products. AutoZone offers discounts and deals constantly, but anticipate greater savings during the three-day weekend.

Clothes: NPD Group chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen says a slow first quarter will have clothing and shoe retailers slashing prices. If retailers follow the same playbook as they have for the past couple of years, DealNews predicts, “You can expect to see clearance apparel discounts of up to 80% off on average.” Specifically, DealNews says shoppers should be on the lookout for multiple-coupon deals for anywhere between an additional 15% to 40% off online and in Kohl’s, Macy’s, JCPenney, and American Eagle stores.

Restaurant meals: Along with lots of clothes and home goods, CouponSherpa.com‘s Memorial Day round-up also includes several deals for savings, freebies and gift cards from a handful of big restaurant chains.

Tools: “Last year, we saw select tool brands marked up to 50% off at Lowe’s and Home Depot, knocking some hand tools down to just $5 each,” DealNews says, so if your plans for summer include doing some fix-ups around the house, this would be a good weekend to hit the hardware store.

What to skip

Grills and outdoor furniture: The experts are unanimous on this. If you want to barbecue, invite yourself over to a friend’s this weekend. “The worst buys are BBQ grills, patio sets and other summer outdoor items” says Kendal Perez, Coupon Sherpa’s deals expert. “We’re still at the beginning of the warm-weather season and these items are better priced near the end of the season, when retailers are eager to make room for fall seasonal merchandise.

Most electronics: “Memorial Day tends to be a relatively low key marketing event for electronics,” says Stephen Baker, consumer technology analyst at the NPD Group. Graduation and Father’s Day are more typical targets for retailers to push electronics, he says, so if you’re in the market for a PC, phone or tablet, it might be best to hold out a little longer. For Apple products, DealNews points out that Apple’s big developer conference comes up next month, so waiting until after that is usually a smarter move.

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