Here’s what not to buy on Labor Day 2018 (and what to buy instead)

By on August 27, 2018

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Going to be online shopping or heading out to the retail stores this Labor Day? Here are our picks for what to avoid this year (as well as what deals to look for ).

1. Don’t buy Fall apparel. Labor Day weekend kickstarts cool-weather apparel sales. 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 to make room for cool-weather clothing. Look for solid summer apparel sales (including swimwear) at REI, American Eagle, Nordstrom, Gap, Old Navy & Banana Republic. This is also a great holiday to purchase new shoes, typically with discounts as high as 50% off from retailers like 6pm.com & Finish Line.

2. Don’t buy Televisions. While Labor Day sales on HDTVs pop up as football season starts up again, the most significant discounts start in early November through Black Friday / Cyber Monday as well as sporadically during December. The same advice goes for home theater systems, DSLR cameras, video game consoles, tablets, and media players.

What to buy instead? Back-to-School Electronics. The back-to-school shopping push unofficially comes to a close around Labor Day. Retailers discount items marketed as a back-to-school product more aggressively. Outside of traditional school supplies (which are also marked down), that includes inexpensive laptops, graphing calculators, headphones, Bluetooth speakers and backpacks with laptop slots / USB charging.

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3. Don’t Buy Gas Grills. Labor Day marks the start of gas grill sales (usually 25% to 50% off) as we move into the off-season. However, if you can hold off a month or two, prices will continue to drop into October and November. Inventory will become more limited into November, but the potential savings by waiting could be an additional 25% – 35% off the Labor Day price. (Side Note: You will find solid deals on Grill accessories on Labor Day though.)

What to buy instead? Appliances. Sept / Oct is the time frame in which new appliances are moving into stores, thus old appliances need to be sold fast. While prices get better into October, Labor Day sales do start aggressively with sales up to 40% off. Looks to retailers like Home Depot and Best Buy for the best prices as well as the best bundling deals with buying multiple appliances at once.

4. Don’t Buy Camping Equipment Since half of the United States is still enjoying warm weather through September, camping equipment closeout sales are minimal until retailers start to clearance out tents, sleeping bags and other camping gear in late October. As we get closer to Halloween, sales will push into the 40% to 60% off range.

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 pools, lawnmowers, swing sets, and any other large 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 60% to 75% off regular prices.

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5. Don’t buy Kid’s Toys. Similar to general electronics, toy sales are fairly dismal during Labor Day. Late October is usually the kickoff for toy sales. While Toys R Us is gone, look to Amazon, Walmart and Target for the best sales leading into the holiday shopping season.

What to buy instead? Stuff for the Grownups; Mattresses, Cars and Wine.

  • During 2017, Labor Day mattress sales were better than any other time of the year. Look to Sears for an aggressive sale, 40% to 60% off select models. Macy’s, US-Mattress and smaller retailers will also offer similar discounts.
  • Regarding cars, dealerships are making room for 2019 models and last year’s models are being discounted. 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.
  • 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.

6. Don’t buy Holiday Airfare. 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 percent 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 percent off Labor Day getaways as well as discounts that take specific dollar amounts off your hotel stay.

7. Don’t buy the iPhone 8 / X. Most Apple owners are aware that new iPhones are announced after Labor Day during mid-September. This triggers a price drop on the previous generation phones as well as preorder deals at various competing wireless carriers. You are better off waiting to see how prices shake out after Labor Day rather than buying on the holiday weekend.

What to buy instead? Android phones / accessories. Labor Day sales will probably be the best time to find a deal on a Samsung phone until late November. Retailers like Best Buy also like to use this holiday for bundling deals, typically offering a 25% to 40% discount on accessory purchases when purchasing a new smartphone.

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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