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En español | This week officially kicks off the first big holiday sale since COVID-19 emptied stores across the country. And internet shoppers won't be disappointed. Retailers are rolling out big online discounts on big-ticket items that Memorial Day sales are known for, including mattresses, outdoor furniture and home appliances.
Watch for online deals on a wide variety of “products to improve the home experience,” such as firepits, storage units, and kitchen and bathroom fixtures, says Michael Bonebright, consumer analyst for the deal-tracking website DealNews. Some of those discounts are bigger than usual for this time of year.
In addition to markdowns, many retailers are tempting shoppers with free home delivery and contactless curbside pickup, a new twist on the buy-online-pick-up-in-store option. Best Buy, Dick's, Macy's, Home Depot, Walmart and other stores will deliver right to your car; drive up to the store, pop open your trunk, and you're good to go.
On the downside, many websites are alerting customers about shipping delays due to coronavirus-related issues. Some have suspended in-home delivery and installation. Other potential shopping snafus: out-of-stock alerts, quantity limits and long wait times on customer-service phone lines.
Before you click “buy” be sure to check the fine print, including shipping times and return policies, which might be temporarily modified or include special instructions or fees for large, bulky items. Another way to avoid buyer's remorse (or resentment) is to carefully scan user reviews for a product's pros and cons — don't rely on overall ratings — and, when possible, double-check them on free rating-analysis services like Fakespot and ReviewMeta.
If you decide to shop in stores, first go online for hours and other information. Even with states opening back up, some retail chains remain closed, have shortened hours or offer special hours for older adults. You may be asked to wear a mask and wait in line at the entrance, or make an appointment to consult with a sales associate due to crowd-control measures.
Here are four product categories with big Memorial Day markdowns:
Mattresses and bedding
With showroom shopping out of the question for many of us, it's a great time to snag online mattress deals. You get more value buying online, according to Michael Magnuson, founder of the mattress review site GoodBed.com. “On average, you're probably getting 25 percent more mattress for your money,” he says. Many companies offer generous return policies with free home trials of 100 or more days.
To help you choose the right type and model for you, start your research at rating sites like GoodBed.com and Consumer Reports. One big catch to buying online: Some mattress companies are warning that due to coronavirus-related issues deliveries may be delayed, and you may not be able to get in-home delivery and pickups of old mattresses. So check websites or call for details.
Here are some tempting Memorial Day mattress sales, according to GoodBed.com.
Saatva: It's the company's biggest sale ever, with $200 off any purchase of $1,000 or more, which amounts to as much as 20 percent off. You can opt for contactless delivery or delivery at a later date. Saatva offers a 120-night free trial, but you'll have to pay a $99 pickup fee for returns.
Avocado: This top-rated brand is offering $200 off any size mattress, plus $150 off a wood frame purchased with the mattress. Avocado has a one-year free trial.
Beautyrest: Up to $300 off. According to Magnuson, the company only recently started selling online and this is its first sale. Beautyrest offers a 100-night free trial.
For deals on bedding, check out Wayfair.com and Macys.com, which are offering up to 70 percent off on sheets and comforters.
Major appliances and vacuums
Best Buy, Home Depot, Sears and Lowe's are offering up to 40 percent off major appliances with free delivery on many items. Those retailers are also offering no-interest financing deals when you use the store credit card. Lowe's has also added a “lease to own” deal, with an initial payment of $79. Again, be sure to read the fine print.
For vacuums, check eBay for deals of up to 50 percent off on models from Dyson, Bissel and Hoover. Dyson is having a sale with $50 to $200 off vacs on its site; Target is offering up to $100 off Shark models.
If you're ready for some social-distancing backyard BBQs, now's a great time to buy a patio set. Several online retailers are offering very steep discounts. Fortunoff Backyard Store is advertising up to 60 percent off with free contactless delivery on orders over $999. Wayfair and Macy's are advertising up to 65 percent off on patio sets and more. Wayfair and Macy's offer free home delivery on anything over $35 or $999, respectively. The three retailers also offer zero-percent financing deals with minimum orders.
Also check CrateandBarrel.com, Pier1.com and PotteryBarn.com for discounts of 40 percent or more. When buying furniture sight-unseen, returns can be a hassle or not allowed, depending on the retailer and the item, so read return policies carefully. Like many other e-tailers, Macy's, for example, doesn't reimburse for return shipping of furniture or mattresses, but it will also hit you with a 15 percent “preference return fee.” Wayfair and Fortunoff don't allow returns for clearance items, and Fortunoff gives you a mere seven days for returns.
Grills and patio accessories
"You're seeing a lot of sales on products geared toward backyard entertainment,” says Bonebright. If you're looking to spruce up your patio, you can find firepits, gazebos and hot tubs for up to 50 percent off at Wayfair; you usually don't see those kinds of markdowns until the fall. Also check Target and Bed Bath & Beyond for patio décor, including outdoor rugs, pillows and umbrellas.
To break the boredom, look at Dick's for great deals on outdoor games, including half off a popular beanbag toss set.
If you're searching for a new grill, Home Depot and Ace Hardware are offering $50 or more off select Weber models with free delivery. But Bonebright advises waiting for late summer or early fall to snag the best deals on a wider variety of grills.
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5 ways to supercharge your savings
1. Delay buying certain items. In addition to grills, electronics and small appliances will be even more deeply discounted during back-to-school and Labor Day sales, says Bonebright, if you’re willing to wait. Although clothing markdowns are steep in some categories, the deals will get even better and more widespread, according to Rakuten shopping expert Kristen Gall. She predicts “discounts of 60 percent to 80 percent on clearance items as the season wears on ... with plenty of sizes and colors available.”
2. Get money back. Sign up for programs offered by cash-back sites such as Rakuten and RetailMeNot, and use a cash-back credit card when you shop to score discounts on top of discounts. Rakuten is running special promotions for the holiday weekend, including 10 percent to 15 percent cash-back deals at Pier 1 Imports, Macy’s, Shoes.com and QVC.
4. Consider refurbs. Before you buy new, check out the deals on refurbished merchandise at Amazon Warehouse, Blinq and eBay, which can save you up to 50 percent or more. (Get an extra 20 percent off of selected items on eBay with the PICK2SAVE promo code.) Note that warranties and return policies may vary for refurbs; also, always check details on the item’s condition.
5. Scoop up special deals. Check your spam folder for email newsletters from retailers offering exclusive discounts. Also follow your favorite stores, including small local retailers, on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for special deals, recommends Bonebright.