August 18, 2014

What to Buy on Labor Day

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The start of September offers a reprieve from the first few days of school and gives many of us a moment to reflect on our summer. Retailers know this and will come out in full force on Labor Day weekend to entice you off the lounge chairs and into the malls or onto your computer to shop.

While the deals you’ll find won’t be as steep as those that come around in just a few months, on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you will find some significant discounts on certain things. Keep a lookout for these items that usually see major price cuts during the Labor Day sales:

  • Patio furniture and grills: With the end to the summer season comes the end of consumer demand for outdoor-living items like patio sets and grills. Look for deep discounts on these items as retailers try to clear room for next season’s merchandise — 50% off retail is the norm with discounts in the 60-75%+ range possible as well.

  • Mattresses: It turns out you can still find a way to relax during the holiday weekend, even if you spend a big chunk of it at your nearest shopping center. Labor Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July are the three major mattress sales events, and some would argue that Labor Day is the best of the bunch. You should be able to find discounts of 30 to 60% off, a nice cost-saver that should help you get a refreshing night’s sleep.

    Bonus tip: Getting a mattress can make a big hit on your wallet, even if you are able score a discount. You may also need a mattress cover and a box spring. And you may be tempted by the salespeople to add in a few new fluffy pillows. Factor in the cost of delivery, and you’re in for a huge charge on your credit card. Before you shop, take a look at your credit cards and see which one offers the lowest interest rate - or consider getting a new low interest credit card. If you’re going to need some time to pay off this big purchase, you want to pay as little as interest over time as possible.

  • School and office supplies: By the time Labor Day has rolled around, parents have already stocked their kids’ backpacks with the latest school supplies. Many students have returned to school, and now retailers begin their yearly panic over whether they can offload all those pencils and pens. If you can wait, you’ll find great deals on backpacks, notebooks, and writing utensils. Discounts will generally fall in the 25-75% range.

  • Bonus tip: You may see some lagging discounts on computers left over from the August sales aimed at college students, but act fast if you’re thinking of buying one — miss out on this round of sales, you’ll have to wait until discounts heat up again around Black Friday.

  • Clothing: You can score some cute outfits for the kiddos as by now, parents have already purchased clothes that their little ones wore on the first day of school. Look for decent discounts on trendy clothing that were poised to sell before school started as well as price breaks on warmer weather items. There’s still some time warmth left to the fall, where you can get some leeway out of short-sleeved shirts and even sandals.

  • Big brands: Many high-end brands slash prices around Labor Day to take advantage of higher retail foot traffic on the three day holiday weekend. This is especially true of houseware brands like Williams Sonoma and Restoration Hardware, but clothing retailers like Brooks Brothers and Anne Klein also have a history of offering great Labor Day Deals. Look for widespread discounts in the 20-30% range, with deeper discounts up to 60% off select merchandise.

  • Flowers and plants: The official end of summer will still be a few weeks away, but most of us view Labor Day as the first day of fall. Nurseries want to offload their inventory, especially if gardeners weren’t too active over the preceding few months. It’ll take a while before mums are deeply discounted, but you could find some patio plants to dress up your Labor Day barbecue. We’ve seen buy one, get one deals as well as discounts ranging from 20% to 75% off.

Labor Day weekend rewards those who were patient during the barrage of back-to-school promotions in August. This is a time when you can get some actual steals before retailers lay low with their true discounts until the end-of-year holiday season.

Leah Norris is a research analyst at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Leah Norris at

More from CreditDonkey:

Infographics: Labor Day

Labor Day Statistics

Infographics: Where Does All My Money Go

Household Spending Statistics

What to Buy in September


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