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Are Columbus Day sales worth it? Yes and no. Here's what to consider and what to skip

Looking for a deal this weekend? Here's where bargain hunters should focus their efforts to save the most money.
Consumer Spending Strengthens In July
Now's the time to look for deals on fall fashion like denim, shoes and select apparel.Spencer Platt / Getty Images file

Nearly every national holiday that sees the closing of government businesses such as the USPS, also sees an influx of hyped up sales. Columbus Day, also known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in some cities and states, is no exception, with retailers rolling out discounts and deals in various categories.

But are these sales really worth our time and money? After all, we just had Labor Day sales last month, and November promises a whirlwind of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. The consensus among retail experts is a solid “yes and no” along with “it depends”.

“Columbus Day weekend falls right at the midpoint of the lull between Labor Day and Black Friday; it doesn’t shine as brightly as those holidays, and it’s more of a low-key sales holiday, but it’s a good time to pick up some of those low-stakes items that might be on your holiday shopping list,” says Kristin McGrath, editor and shopping expert at

Some items will see more worthwhile discounts than others. We’ve compiled two lists: the first on what to buy (or where you stand to see the best discounts) — and the second focused on what to skip, or hold off on, until next month when bigger savings are sure to drop.

Experts points to these Columbus Day sales

Columbus Day weekend is a good time to book holiday travel

“Now is a really good time to book cheaper flights for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews. “While the best rates were found at the end of September, they tend to be fairly stable through October, so you can be confident in booking now and not spending much more (if anything at all) than you would have by booking last month. We expect airfare prices to fall between $19 and $40 for one-way flights, depending on whether you're looking at budget airlines or major carriers.”

Update your makeup essentials with these Columbus Day deals

“Mid-October historically offers great deals on beauty products, in fact it’s one of the best times all year to buy makeup,” says Sara Skirboll, shopping & trends expert for RetailMeNot. “Shoppers looking to stock up on lipstick, mascara and more can expect to see discounts as deep as 60 percent off. Right now, Sephora is offering up to $20 cash back on purchases exclusively through RetailMeNot, and at Ulta shoppers can score up to 50 percent off with the October promo codes and coupons.”

Beauty buyers should also note that Bloomingdale’s is running its Friends and Family sale this weekend, enabling shoppers to take $15 off ever $150 spent in the beauty department.

Prepare for fall with denim, shoes and select apparel deals

“Shoes are worth checking out right now,” says Ramhold. “A lot of places are still dealing with warm weather right now, but it's definitely starting to cool down so if you want boots before the temperature really drops, now's a good time to look. We're already seeing shoe sales — Allen Edmonds is currently taking up to $150 off a variety of men's shoes, and [we] expect to see more sales slash an extra 40 percent off in some cases.”

Skirboll notes that now is a great time to purchase certain clothing apparel, as does McGrath (though Ramhold advises consumers to wait until Black Friday for potentially bigger sales).

McGrath provided NBC News BETTER with the following roundup of top deals dropping this weekend in the apparel and shoes category.

Save upwards of 50 percent on home goods

“Home goods are another category worth checking out this weekend.” says Ramhold. “We expect discounts as high as 70 percent off on things like kitchen items, outdoor furniture, tools, decor and more.”

So far the most impressive deal to drop comes from Home Depot, which is running a Columbus Day sale now through the 17th of October. Shoppers can save up to 40 percent off in a variety of categories including living room goods and office furniture, while items in the storage, decor and tableware departments are marked down by between 30 and 35 percent. Through the 14th of the month, shoppers can also save on gallon and 5-gallon cans of Exclusive Behr Marquee Interior Paint.

Ramhold also recommends seeing what Walmart is up to in terms of sales come the weekend.

Here's a pro-tip for stacking savings

If you’re looking to take advantage of any of these sales, heed the wisdom of NerdWallet’s personal finance expert, Kimberly Palmer to maximize your savings potential.

“Prices fluctuate a lot this time of year, so it really pays to monitor prices and buy when they are low,” Palmer says. “Use a tool like Paribus to monitor your email receipts and get you an automatic refund if prices drop after you buy. Use an app like ShopSavvy to scan barcodes in stores to see if there is a lower price elsewhere nearby and use the Honey browser extension to search for better deals when you’re shopping online. If you’re shopping on Amazon, the website CamelCamelCamel helps you monitor prices and check the price history of items.”

Hold off on these categories until Black Friday and Cyber Monday

This holiday weekend is a great time to shop for sales on the above categories, but remember Ramhold’s note that this is a “low-key” holiday. We’ll see much more robust savings on the following items once November rounds the corner:

Bedding and bath items

“Bedding and bath items will definitely be cheaper next month,” says Ramhold. “While a few sales might pop up before Indigenous Peoples'/Columbus Day is over, we expect much better deals around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year we saw bath towels drop to $2 each, throw blankets for $7, and pillows for $2 at Kohl's for Black Friday. Additionally, we saw comforters as cheap as $17, and then at the end of Cyber Week, Target cut an extra 40 percent off its bedding and bath items.”


“While it may be tempting to buy toys now and cross them off your gifting list, holding off until December will score big savings,” says Skirboll. “The 10 days leading up to Christmas is when most toys see the deepest discounts. I recommend waiting especially if you don’t have one specific toy in mind.”


“This is another category I recommend waiting on,” Skirboll says. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday will offer the deepest discounts on all kinds of electronics from TVs and laptops to smartphones and headphones.”

Ramhold seconds this advice, adding “you're better off waiting until next month to see what stores like Amazon, Best Buy, and Target bring.”


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