The Best and Worst Things to Buy in July

This post comes from Benjamin Glaser of partner site DealNews.com.

In the gulch between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you might think sales are hard to come by, but the opposite is true. Shopping heats up in July, with stores offering everything from rare discounts on in-season apparel to desperately needed air conditioners.

Fourth of July sales, Part 1: Warm-weather clothing

Warm-weather clothing is always one of the best buys over the Fourth of July holiday, and last year’s deals offered savings of up to an impressive 88 percent off at 6PM and up to 80 percent off at both JCPenney and Kohl’s. However, the 50 percent discount we saw for select items at PacSun, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Gap, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Eddie Bauer was more typical.

Fourth of July sales, Part 2: Outdoor gear

Beyond casual wear, you’ll also find good deals on all kinds of outdoor gear and apparel. Last year’s most impressive deal came from Jenson USA, which offered up to 90 percent off bikes, biking gear and apparel; however, you’re more likely to see discounts of around 50 percent off at stores like Columbia, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops, Backcountry and Gander Mountain. Last year, outdoor favorite Cabela’s offered up to 60 percent off throughout the store, with good deals on camping and fishing equipment.

Swimwear

Sitewide swimwear deals are hot in July, even more so than in August. Last year, we saw big sales on women’s swimwear at Nordstrom, PacSun and HerRoom, as well as men’s and women’s swimwear at 6PM and Forever 21, and men’s trunks at Target. Venus is also a standout brand in offering deals on individual suits and pieces throughout July and August. In general, look for women’s separates for as little as $5 and men’s trunks from $15.

Designer apparel at Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

If your tastes run more high-end, check out the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale at the end of the month. Even though it’s still summer, look for discounts of 25 percent to 50 percent off recently released fall lines from The North Face, Tory Burch, Ugg Australia, Rag & Bone, Burberry, Steve Madden, Cole Haan and more.

Amazon-brand items on Prime Day

Enough people flocked to the inaugural Amazon Prime Day last year for the site to bring it back. And despite a lot of duds (see below), there were some good offers as well that you should look for this Prime Day.

(This just in: “Amazon Announces July 12 Is Prime Day.”)

The safest bets for Prime Day are Amazon-branded products. We saw discounts like 60 percent off Amazon Elements Baby Wipes, $15 off the Fire TV Stick, $60 off the Fire HD 7 and $50 off the Amazon Echo. Released earlier this year, both the Echo Dot and the Echo Tap may be included in the Prime Day discounts this month. (The Tap has dropped to as low as $95 in the past, whereas we’ve never seen the Dot on sale.)

Take advantage of the best air conditioner deals of the summer

If you’re going to buy an air conditioner this summer, do it in July. We not only see the most air conditioner deals this month when compared with June and August, but also the most Editors’ Choice deals. By comparison, August of last year had very few air conditioner sales.

Target and Newegg offered many of the best deals, but if you really want savings, check out refurbished units on eBay.

What not to buy this month:

Xbox One

It’d be very tempting to snatch up an Xbox One right now, as the MSRP has officially dropped twice in two weeks, from $349 to $279. But before you jump on that blanket discount, know that we’ve seen the console for as little as $259 in just the last few months, and those deals often came with bundled games to boot. Plus, a new Xbox has already been announced, and it’s available for preorder. That means the cheaper Xbox One is soon to be replaced, which is a con for any gamer who wants the latest hardware, as well as a boon for patient deal shoppers — the Xbox One will probably get even cheaper once the new model hits stores on Aug. 31. Buying an Xbox One in July just doesn’t make sense.

Older Apple devices

Apple just announced new operating systems for all of their platforms, but not all devices are eligible for updates. For example, if you have an iPad 1, 2, 3, or mini, an iPhone 4s or older, or a MacBook from 2009 or before, you won’t be able to take advantage of the latest Apple software.

These older devices still provide a great value for some, and they will continue to function with the older OSs. Be aware that, as iOS 10 and Sierra become the new standard, developers will likely shift their efforts to the needs of an ecosystem you can’t access on older devices. In some cases, that might make your purchase feel outdated sooner than you’d like.

Filler items during Amazon Prime Day

Many were severely disappointed by Amazon’s inaugural Prime Day last year, with the best deals selling out in seconds. Though we saw many amazing prices on electronics on Prime Day, many sold out before they were even open to the general public. (The aforementioned Amazon tech items excluded.) Some deals were on strange items like krill oil pills or furniture-moving slings. So while there will be some great deals, we urge shoppers to avoid impulse buys on such filler items.

Laptops

With some college students headed to campus in just a few weeks, it’s true that back-to-school sales heat up this month. However, our data show that laptop deals are much better in August; prices consistently drop as much as 25 percent further. Last summer, we saw laptops with current-gen Broadwell i5 processors for as little as $450, in the weeks just before the Skylake chips were introduced. So expect to see Skylake laptops drop to that price range again this August, especially if a new generation is introduced again.

TV deals

HDTVs remain a don’t-buy item for the month of July. Deals on HDTVs are scarce during the summer, and this month will be no exception. Nevertheless, we understand sometimes you simply can’t wait for the right deal to come along. If you fall into that category, we recommend a name-brand 55-inch TV. These sets have dropped even further since their $500 plateau last year; they’re now regularly available for around $450. (This might be because 4K sets are becoming more mainstream.)

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