The Best and Worst Things to Buy in May

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From Mother’s Day to Memorial Day, May is a busy month for retailers and shoppers alike. In addition to being the unofficial start of the summer, it also marks the time of year when we start spending more time outdoors, and that can lead to additional spending. But before you purchase a new grill or try on any summer apparel, check out these recommendations on the best (and worst) products you can buy this month:

Party supplies

You’ve got a long season of barbecues, cookouts, and get-togethers ahead of you, so save money by buying in bulk to prepare for them. Check Memorial Day sales at superstores and online retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target and, where you might be able to get a coupon for 10 percent off everything. Then stockpile paper dishes, cups, paper towels and whatever else you need to entertain.

Spring clothes

As with other holidays, “Memorial Day sales” have now crept all the way to the start of May. We see them beginning four weeks early! But 90 percent of Memorial Day deals still come out in the week of Memorial Day, including 90 percent of the Editors’ Choice deals, so you’re safe waiting.

While many sales will tease you with deals on summer clothing, the best savings will actually be on spring apparel. (Summer apparel is always cheaper during the months of August and September, when retailers are trying to clear out any inventory that consumers didn’t buy.)

Spring apparel will see its deepest discounts of the year during Memorial Day weekend, and we expect to see deals from Uniqlo, Macy’s, Amazon, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sierra Trading Post, Gap and Eddie Bauer. Look for discounts of 20 percent to 90 percent off. Meanwhile, designer brands like Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Cole Haan will also offer discounts, which will range from 30 percent to 50 percent.

However, you won’t want to settle for a mere sale price, as most stores will also have coupons offering deeper discounts. Look for coupons taking up to an extra 40 percent off. Saks Fifth Avenue has offered free shipping on some orders with a coupon, as did Eddie Bauer. Check out the coupon center for promos from your favorite stores, and be sure to peruse our entire Memorial Day sales guide.

This will all mean accessories like leather belts from $3, casual linen dresses from $9 and men’s casual shirts from $4.

Large appliances, kitchen appliances and cookware

Last year, more than 20 percent of all Memorial Day weekend sales were for home items, including appliances and kitchen supplies.

Williams-Sonoma and Chef’s Catalog will be cutting prices by 60 percent and 70 percent, respectively. Also look for big sales from Sears, JCPenney and Cymax.

These sales will drop a countertop convection oven (toaster oven) to $45 and upright vacuums from $75. Dishwashers start at $295 ($165 off), and washers start at $300.


It’s not just the prices that make May such a great time to buy a mattress, it’s the number of choices. Memorial Day traditionally brings big sales in which stores offer discounts on large selections of their mattresses, not just individual items. If you’re flexible on the specific type of mattress you buy, then don’t settle for anything less than 50 percent off. Also look for stackable coupons, which could take 10 percent to 40 percent off already-discounted items.

Retailers to follow include Sears, JCPenney, Overstock, Macy’s and US-Mattress.

Star Wars sales

May 4 is Star Wars Day. (Get it? “May the ‘fourth’ be with you!”) And we are seeing a ton of deals on toys and other merchandise in honor of this completely fan-created holiday. Last year, we saw lots of deals on Star Wars figurines in particular, from bobbleheads to Disney Infinity figures. Look for deals of at least 30 percent off, dropping bundles of figurines to under $20.

Home and office furniture

Need a new desk or wheeled chair? We saw a huge burst of deals on office furniture last May, with a ton of all-time price lows. It’s unclear exactly why, but some say it’s because many people are setting up home offices after tax day in April; others think it’s stores clearing out indoor furniture as attention shifts to outdoor items.

In addition to predictable stores for office-related deals like Office Depot, Staples, Walmart and Target, be sure to check out Quill, another office supply store with great deals on their in-house furniture brand. At these stores, look for spacious laminate desks from $60 and high-backed executive wheeled chairs from $50.

Spring is also the time when stores clear out their home furniture inventory to make way for new lines. Look to Rooms to Go and Cymax for 10 to 20 percent off dining and living room sets. Walmart will have shelving and entertainment centers from $13.

Nontraditional Mother’s Day gifts

As we get closer to the second Sunday in May, traditional Mother’s Day gifts will get more and more expensive. This includes jewelry, perfume and certain women’s clothing items, not to mention the ubiquitous Mother’s Day brunch.

Instead of splurging on something generic, try something personal instead. Photo printing is always a great way to preserve memories, and last year, Walgreens offered an 8-by-10-inch photo enlargement print absolutely free. Online photo printing sites charge for shipping, but offer free magnets, art prints, and more.

As for brunch, remember that breakfast in bed and a bottle of prosecco will save you a bundle over a bottomless mimosa prix fixe in a restaurant. And if the weather’s good, head to a local park for a picnic or go on a stroll.


May usually has three times as many swimwear deals as April, and twice as many Editors’ Choice deals as June. Get women’s suits for as little as $3 before they triple in price next month and through the summer. Check Walmart, Kmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods for deals.

What not to buy in May …


Although you can currently get a 15-inch mainstream Intel laptop for about $380 to $400, in the coming weeks that same laptop might be 17 percent cheaper or include a free store credit. That’s because late June traditionally marks the start of back-to-school sales, and some online offers will be available to anyone, even if shoppers don’t have an .edu email address.


We know that it’s grilling season, and maybe you’ve invited a bunch of people over for a Memorial Day cookout. Because of that kind of demand, grill prices are at their peak right now. If you already have a grill, see if you can safely get one more season out of it before replacing it around Labor Day, when prices will drop over 30 percent.

Mattresses? Maybe

This is a bit of an upset because, as we noted above, May is the best month of the year for mattress sales. But while June has far fewer big sales, it does have a some really amazing individual deals on specific mattresses. Some people think that mattress stores clear out their showrooms in May, so perhaps June is the time for sales on the stragglers that really need to move. In any event, we saw a Serta Perfect Sleeper mattress set for $600, plus a memory foam mattress for just $119. So if you want a specific mattress and it’s on sale in May, buy it then. If you don’t care so much what kind of mattress you get, wait until June.

What shopping deals are you on the lookout for this month? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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