Bargain-Hunting Season: The Best Things to Buy in September

This post comes from Louis Ramirez at partner site DealNews.com.

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 of 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.

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, like Gap, REI, and Puma. Last year, the most notable sales (i.e. sales marked Editors Choice) came from Abercrombie & Fitch and The Children’s Place, which took 60 percent and 65 percent off sitewide, respectively.

Last September, we also saw a surprising number of deals on designer clothes. Neiman Marcus, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste and Calvin Klein were just a few of the name-brand designers that took 20 to 86 percent 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 percent off sitewide. Club Monaco went so far as to take an extra 40 percent 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, because 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, like eBay, Wal-Mart and Best Buy, to offer iPhone 6 deals with prices around $50 with a two-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 any, 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 barbecue-related utensils. Although barbecues are generally associated with summer, the less humid autumn weather may provide a more ideal climate for your backyard soirees, so rest assured that if you invest in a grill this month, you’ll be able to use it in the coming weeks.

Look for sitewide sales from Sears and Target that take 25 to 60 percent off various charcoal- and gas-based grills. Discounted brands will include Kenmore, Weber, Char-Broil and La Hacienda. To complement 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 percent.

While you’re at it, September is also a great month to upgrade your patio furniture. You’ll find major sales from stores like Target and Pier 1 Imports with discounts ranging from 25 to 50 percent off. Stores like Home Depot will also discount outdoor tools and appliances, like 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.

32-inch TV deals will dominate

September is traditionally a stellar month for deals on 32-inch 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-inch TVs, off-brand 55-inch 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 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 percent off select mattresses with an extra 10 to 40 percent 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 percent 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-inch 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-inch 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 percent 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 percent off the same items. On average, about 35 percent of Black Friday appliance deals are marked Editors Choice — only 15 percent 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 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 percent in the past year alone, so any discount you’re able to find can impact your budget.

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. Sept. 29 is National Coffee Day, and food chains across the country will celebrate by offering 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.

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