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Best Things to Buy in May

Look for deals on Mother’s Day and Memorial Day

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As the days get warmer and longer this month, the deals from retailers get better. After two months without any major retail holidays, stores are prepping to welcome shoppers back with sales before Mother’s Day (May 14) and Memorial Day (May 29).

“Memorial Day is one of the three biggest sales days of the year, along with Labor Day and Black Friday,” says Kimberly Palmer, a spokesperson with the personal finance website NerdWallet. “If you are in the market for big-ticket items like furniture, home decor, appliances from department stores or big box stores, this is the time you’ll see big discounts.”

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Retailers are also starting to roll out promotions and gifts aimed at graduates who finish school this month and next, couples tying the knot with a summer wedding, and early birds already thinking about Father’s Day presents.

One store that might be worth checking out for clearance sales this month: Bed Bath & Beyond. The home goods retailer filed for bankruptcy in April and is focused on liquidating the remaining inventory in its stores. If you are a member of the retailer’s rewards program, you can use “Welcome Rewards” that you’ve earned until May 8. Keep in mind that any purchases made there (or at sister store buybuy BABY) will be final and “as is.”

“A lot of those stores have some beachy stuff and some summer items,” says Kristin McGrath, a shopping expert with RetailMeNot. “That might be something to check out earlier in the month.”

If you’re shopping elsewhere, keep an eye on the following categories:

Outdoor grills

Though the very best prices on grills come at the end of the season, if you need a new grill for the summer, this may be your last chance to find one still marked below the peak summer prices. Retailers may launch promotions tied to National Barbecue Month, which happens to fall in May, or before Memorial Day, the unofficial kickoff to cookout season. In addition to discounts, deals might include free barbecue cooking tools or free setup and delivery.

“You won’t see discounts this big again until after the summer is over, when things are on clearance,” Palmer says. “This is a brief window before the height of the season to get a good deal.”

Where to find deals: Walmart, Amazon, locally owned stores

Potential savings: Up to 40 percent off

Patio furniture

Discounts on patio furniture this month will be similar to those on grills. Although not as great as the reductions you may see in the fall, these may be your last chance to find favorable pricing before high demand pushes prices back up. Look for deals on full sets, as well as individual pieces to round out your outdoor living space. If any retailers have stock left over from last season, you could find even greater discounts as they make room for the new models. 

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Where to find deals: Costco, Sam’s Club, Wayfair

Potential savings: 15 percent to 25 percent off

Appliances (large and small)

Memorial Day weekend is one of several three-day weekends throughout the year in which retailers significantly mark down large appliances such as washing machines and dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators.

“A lot of the discounts get bigger if you buy more than one appliance,” McGrath says. “So if you’re outfitting your entire kitchen, you might see even bigger savings.”

The holiday weekend is also a great time to pick up smaller kitchen appliances, such as blenders or food processors, which may be on sale earlier in the month as retailers push them as potential Mother’s Day gifts.

Where to find deals: Best Buy, Lowe’s, LG

Potential savings: 30 percent to 40 percent off

Personalized photo gifts

A perennial favorite way to show moms appreciation on Mother’s Day is with customized photo gifts, such as calendars, mugs or prints. Online photo retailers have started promoting discount codes and other deals on such items. Just make sure to order early enough that you don’t get hit with a rush shipping fee that negates the savings.

Where to find deals: Shutterfly, Snapfish, VistaPrint

Potential savings: 10 percent to 25 percent off

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Beach and pool gear

If you plan to spend time poolside or at the beach this summer, May is a great time to stock up on towels, beach chairs and goggles. Retailers recognize high demand for such items as summer starts, and they’re willing to discount them around Memorial Day to get more customers into their stores, says Brad Godwin, head of retail partnerships at Shopkick.

“They’re just trying to get you not to go to their competitor,” Godwin says.

Where to find deals: Macy’s, Kohl’s, Pottery Barn

Potential savings: 10 percent to 30 percent off

Women’s spring clothing

Although there tends to be less of a difference between spring and summer clothing for men, many retailers bring out all new apparel for women as the seasons change. That means they’ll need to discount any remaining spring women’s clothing this month to make room for summer threads such as bathing suits and tank tops.

“You’ll continue to see that trend as we get closer to Memorial Day and into June,” Godwin says. “That’s local, store by store, so if you make a few trips throughout May, you’ll see more spring fashion items marked down.”

Where to find deals: Target, Madewell, outlet stores

Potential savings: Up to 40 percent off

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