How to beat back rising prices with Memorial Day deals

4 weeks ago 22

Pants for sale at an Urban Outfitters store in Pasadena, California.

Mario Anzuoni | Reuters

This year's Memorial Day sales could be key for cash-strapped Americans feeling the sting of soaring inflation.

The three-day holiday weekend generally marks a big sales push, making it a good time to stock up, "especially if it's something you know you're going to need," said Simon Blanchard, an associate professor at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.

That's particularly true after the recent run-up in prices, Blanchard added.

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However, some discounts may not seem like much now compared to what things cost a year ago, he cautioned. "The reality is sales will be different because prices aren't what they used to be."

Use price-tracking apps like camelcamelcamel to see how good a deal really is, Blanchard advised.

Also consider whether the packaging has changed as more companies try to disguise higher costs by reducing the amount you are getting, a strategy known as "shrinkflation."

"If you are getting 25% off and the product has shrunk by 20%, is it really that good of a deal?"

There will still be plenty of good discounts out there, Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst at DealNews.com, said of the sales which typically kick off midweek and run through Monday.

"Because of inflation, the starting price may be higher, which means the sale price may not be as low as we hoped but that doesn't mean it's a bad deal," she said.

What to buy on Memorial Day

The best deals will be on mattresses, spring clothes and appliances, Ramhold said, although there are discounts across a wide range of categories, if you know where to look.

• Mattresses: Memorial Day is one of best times to buy a mattress, according to Ramhold. Expect big discounts from Casper and Tempur-Pedic, as well as from department stores like J.C. Penney and Macy's, which could mark down mattresses (and bedding) up to 60%.

• Clothing: Spring apparel makes up another large part of the Memorial Day sales push, Ramhold said. Discounts could be as much as 50% off as retailers clear out older inventory to make room for new arrivals. Even though it's last season's merchandise, you can find a lot of items that will carry over into summer, she added.

• Appliances: Large appliances, like refrigerators, ovens, and washers and dryers, have been hard to come by since the Covid pandemic started, but retailers, including Home Depot, Lowe's and Best Buy, are still offering discounts of around 30% off to move older models from the floor.

If you look farther than the big-box stores, you may find even better deals at independent shops, Ramhold advised.

• Furniture and home decor: There will also be plenty of sales from online retailers like Overstock.com but the savings will vary based on brand or category, so you'll have to shop around, Ramhold said.

"If you are on the hunt for home goods, be aware that you may have to dig for the deals to see what's there," she said.

Still, this is a good time to think ahead and save some money on items for the home that you may need down the road.

• Grills and patio furniture: If you are ready to upgrade your outdoor space, there will be some deals on grills, fire pits and outdoor furniture, but because these items are in high demand at the start of the season, "retailers don't have the same incentive to offer such good prices on them," Ramhold said.

Expect to see 20% off grills and 30% to 50% off a small selection of patio furniture. "The discounts are there but they're going to be modest at best," Ramhold said. The markdowns get better in August and September when retailers want to clear their shelves, she added.

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