Five Things Not to Buy on Labor Day (and what to buy instead!)

By on September 3, 2015

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Labor Day weekend is already upon us and the early sales have started to hit retailers this week in preparation of the holiday. While you can find plenty of products on sale, not everything you will see is on sale for the best price. Here are our five picks for product categories that you should avoid this holiday weekend. This list was developed by Ben’s Bargains Editor-in-Chief Kristin Cook as well as other deal expert editors on Ben’s.

Don’t Buy Gas Grills

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While you will see solid sales on gas grills on Labor Day (usually 25% to 50% off), this holiday marks the start of aggressive discounts on gas grills as we move into the off-season. Prices will continue to drop into October and November. Be aware that inventory will also become more limited, however the potential savings by waiting could be an additional 25% off that Labor Day price.

What to buy instead? Patio furniture / Outdoor living gear / Lawnmowers

Labor Day is generally the big push to get rid of outdoor furniture, above-ground temporary pools, lawnmowers and any other outdoor items. Big items like patio furniture take up more inventory space than gas grills, thus there’s greater urgency to use Labor Day as a sales push to make space for holiday items. Look for discounts up to 75% off regular prices.

Don’t Buy Fall Apparel

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Labor Day weekend is typically when retailers start heavily advertising cool-weather apparel. However, Fall apparel won’t hit the best sales until the Winter apparel lines start pushing into stores. Don’t be fooled by small discounts (10% to 30%) during Labor Day when you will start to see 50% discounts and higher as we move into November.

What to buy instead? Summer Apparel / Footwear

Retailers will discount summer items as much as 80% off since they need the room for cool-weather clothing. Look for solid summer apparel sales at REI, American Eagle, Nordstrom, 6pm, Gap, Old Navy & Banana Republic. This is also a great holiday to purchase swimwear, heavily discounted as you likely won’t be wearing it until late Spring 2016.

Don’t Buy Televisions / General Electronics

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While you will definitely see Labor Day sales on televisions likely related to the start of football season, the most significant discounts won’t actually happen until the start of November through Black Friday / Cyber Monday as well as sporadically during December. Outside of televisions, this includes home theater systems, digital cameras, smartphones, tablets, GPS navigators and more.

What to buy instead? Back-to-School Electronics

The back-to-school shopping push unofficially comes to a close around Labor Day. This means retailers will be pushing out anything marketed as a back-to-school item more aggressively. Outside of traditional school supplies (which are also marked down), that includes inexpensive laptops, calculators, headphones, Bluetooth speakers and backpacks with laptop slots.

Don’t Buy Fun Toys for the Kids

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Similar to general electronics, toy sales are fairly dismal during Labor Day. However, sales on toys for the holiday shopping season have been starting earlier and earlier, generally around late October. Stores like Toys R Us will start heavily promoting sales starting late October throughout mid-December. Other retailers that will promote sales during that time frame include Amazon, Walmart and Target.

What to buy instead? Fun “Toys” for Adults; Mattresses, Cars and Wine

  • During 2014, Labor Day mattress sales were better than any other time of the year. Look to Sears for an extremely aggressive sale of 50% to 60% off select models. Macy’s, Sleepy’s and smaller mattress retailers will also offer similar discounts.
  • Regarding cars, dealerships are making room for 2016 models, 2015 models are being discounted a bit. Look for discounts around 10% on Labor Day with the potential for increasing discounts (20% and up) as we move into late September / early October. Of course, inventory will also dwindle.
  • If you are a wine drinker, many wineries are starting to push out older stock in favor of new vintages that will come from the ongoing harvest season. This results in heavier discounts (which vary significantly by winery) on current year wine.

Don’t Buy Thanksgiving / Christmas Airfare

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While you will see holiday travel deal promotions on Labor Day weekend, the best time to book your holiday travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas is usually early October (between Oct 5th and 15th). Ticket prices are roughly 5% to 10% lower during that time period, then will shoot back up after mid-October.

What to buy instead? Last-minute summer destinations

Leading up to Labor Day as well as the holiday itself, it’s a great time to snag a deal on a trip to a warm destination. As summer comes to a close, you will see travel deals that offer 30% to 50% off Labor Day getaways as well as discounts that take specific dollar amounts off your hotel stay.

What are you shopping for this Labor Day? Tell us in the comments below.

About Mike Flacy

By day, I'm the Editor-in-Chief for The CheckOut in addition to being the content manager for Steve's Digicams and High-Def Digest. During my free time, I love to write about pop culture, home theater, digital photography, social media, mobile technology and cool gadgets!

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