The Best and Worst Things to Buy in May

Yes, Memorial Day sales are coming, but there's much more to bargain shopping in the month of May.

With Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and (of course) Star Wars Day on the horizon, you can expect competitive prices on pretty much everything in May. We’ve consulted our archives from years past to help you sort the great deals from the merely good ones this month. Here are some of the best:

Spring apparel

We previously mentioned that April was a great time to shop spring apparel. But if you’ve been able to hold off, May is even better! Not only is the season coming to an end — pushing spring threads to the clearance section — but Memorial Day sales make the month an even hotter time to shop for clothing. In fact, 25 percent of all the deals we listed last May were for apparel or accessories; 22 percent of our Editors’ Choice offers were for clothes.

You can expect Memorial Day sales to begin around two weeks before the big day, but the very best clothing offers won’t drop until a few days before the holiday (May 28 this year). Last year’s standout sales came from brands like Cole Haan, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein. Crocs and the Gap should host some of their best sales of the year during May, too, with the latter knocking at least 50 percent off sitewide.

Expect to shop men’s, women’s and kids T-shirts from $2, dresses from $4 and shorts from around $5, but the best of these prices will be found in the clearance sections of chains like Walmart and Target. Most stores will offer stacking coupons to lower their sale prices even further, so be sure to bookmark our coupons page ahead of time.

Appliances and kitchen gadgets

Outside of the Black Friday season, holiday weekends are generally the best time to shop home appliances — and Memorial Day is among the very best of those. Last year, 34 percent of all Memorial Day weekend deals were for home items, including appliances and kitchen supplies.

Home Depot’s sale is always the most popular of the season and will likely start just five days before Memorial Day, letting you shop for washers, dryers and refrigerators at up to 40 percent off. JCPenney should match many of the store’s sale prices, however, beating cheaper items by offering a lower free shipping minimum (last year Home Depot shipped orders over $395 for free, while JCPenney shipped them at $299).

Hoover should host one of its best sales of the season, too, putting popular vacuums at half the price of other stores. And eBay’s Daily Deal section should be the best spot to shop highly discounted Dyson units.

Throughout this month (and particularly around Memorial Day) you can expect chest freezers to sell for $100, big-brand washers and dryers falling as low as $300 apiece, and side-by-side refrigerators discounted to as little as $765. In fact, we saw the third-cheapest fridge of the whole year last May!

Party supplies

Whether you’re planning beach parties, cookouts or family get-togethers, May is a great time to stock up on party supplies.

Outside of November (when pretty much everything is on sale), we saw more deals on party essentials in May than in any other month of 2017. Memorial Day sales at Target, Amazon, and eBay are great times to shop banquet tables and gazebos. Last year we saw a 30-foot gazebo for just $80! Also, daily deal sites like 13 Deals will have your glow sticks and balloon orders covered.

Mattresses

It’s not just the competitive prices that make May such a great time to buy a mattress — it’s also the increased selection at major stores. Memorial Day inspires sitewide savings and coupon discounts at department stores like Macy’s, The Home Depot and JCPenney, and prices on big-ticket items like mattresses can fall by hundreds of dollars. Last year, we saw a twin memory foam mattress for only $70.

If you’re flexible on the specific type of mattress you want to buy, don’t settle for anything less than 50 percent off. Also, look out for coupons to take an extra 10 percent to 15 percent off already-discounted models.

Star Wars sales

May 4 is Star Wars Day (because, “May the 4th be with you,” of course), which means you don’t have to be a member of the 501st Legion to get your Imperial slippers at a discount. An increasingly popular sale holiday, May the 4th was celebrated by Amazon, Target and ThinkGeek last year.

These sites offered autographed memorabilia, toys and apparel at up to 60 percent off. For its sale, Walmart slashed the price of Star Wars figures to as low as $2, while a selection of kids bikes and ride-ons fell under the $50 mark.

Office furniture

We see an influx of office furniture deals each May. In fact, you can expect to shop more top-quality, Editors’ Choice office deals during this month than in any other.

In 2017, 50 percent of the Editors’ Choice offers listed in this category came from Walmart, so make it your first stop if you’re looking for discounted desks and chairs. Office supply store Quill also impressed us, as it hosted a third of the month’s office furniture deals.

Your basic swivel chairs could go as low as $15 — we saw the cheapest office chair of the year at this price in May 2017. Shelving units and small desks could be had for around $20. Be aware that you may have to pick these pieces up from your local stores to avoid hefty shipping fees.

Nontraditional Mother’s Day gifts

Mother’s Day falls on May 13 this year. Prices will soar on traditional Mother’s Day gifts as we edge closer to the holiday. That means you’ll want to avoid the usual flowers, perfume and jewelry.

Opting for something personal is always a best bet, and you can count on sites like Groupon and Shutterfly to dole out top deals on customized goods. The latter will likely offer free gifts with purchase throughout the month — including personalized notebooks, magnets and art prints — and all you’ll need to pay is the shipping costs.

A great last-minute deal for any mom is a magazine subscription. Annual subscriptions to popular titles like Vogue, Taste of Home and Runner’s World should cost just $5 this month via DiscountMags and Amazon.

Swimsuits

You might think that summer sales will be the best place to shop for swimwear, but we traditionally see more offers in May. You can expect to nab half-price items at Lands’ End and the Disney Store, while swim accessories like goggles and scuba equipment will see major price drops at Amazon. Bikini separates typically start as low as $3 across the web before tripling in price in June and July.

Samsung Galaxy S9 phones

We’ve been tracking the price trends of the most popular smartphones on the market; May should bring big discounts on the Samsung Galaxy S9.

Since the handset’s release in March, this smartphone has been slowly dropping in price (at the time of writing, the cheapest unlocked model we’ve seen is $660). But if it follows the same trend as the Galaxy S8 did last year, we could see this phone’s price drop by another 30 percent in the next few weeks. Keep an eye on Samsung and reputable third-party eBay sellers for the lowest prices.

Select produce

For taste and low cost, it’s best to shop in-season fruit and vegetables when possible. In May, you can anticipate lower prices on better-tasting rhubarb, strawberries, spinach, cherries, garlic, snap peas and apricots.

That wraps up our top suggestions for purchases in May. Now, for some of the things that are probably not going to be a good deal.

For 3 things to avoid buying in May, read on …

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