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What to buy on Memorial Day and what to skip, according to experts

Knowing which product categories offer the deepest discounts can help you plan your shopping and save the most money.
Experts recommend shopping Memorial Day sales as early as possible to browse inventory before products start selling out.
Experts recommend shopping Memorial Day sales as early as possible to browse inventory before products start selling out.Vivian Le/ NBC

Dozens of brands and retailers host Memorial Day sales toward the end of May, and it’s easy to feel tempted by big discounts. But to ensure you’re saving the most money possible, it’s important to identify which product categories typically offer the best savings opportunities during the holiday weekend, and which usually offer shallower deals compared to other times of year. This can help you strategize, create a shopping list and stretch your budget as far as possible.

SKIP AHEAD What to buy during Memorial Day 2023 | What to buy later this year | Expert shopping tips | When do Memorial Day sales start? | What stores are open on Memorial Day?

Memorial Day falls on Monday, May 29 this year, but sales have already begun. Below, experts shared what they recommend buying and what to wait on if possible, plus additional tips for shopping during the holiday weekend.

What to buy during Memorial Day 2023

Memorial Day — which many regard as the unofficial start of summer — is known for its sales on big-ticket items like furniture and household appliances. “Think washers and dryers, refrigerators, mattresses, TVs, electronics, and popular summer items such as grills and patio furniture,” says Kristen Gall, a retail and shopping expert at Rakuten. You can expect to see up to 60% off mattresses and bedding sets, 30% to 40% off major appliances and 25% to 50% off window air conditioners and ceiling fans, according to Vipin Porwal, founder and consumer savings expert at Smarty. Within these categories, some of the steepest discounts are on last year’s models since retailers look to clear out inventory before the summer season, Gall added.

Keep in mind that while large retailers and big box department stores deeply discount items during Memorial Day sales, locally-owned stores usually offer what Porwal called “better service,” like free home delivery, for example. If that’s something you’re looking for, be sure to consider it when deciding where to make a purchase from.

What to buy later this year

There’s always a handful of strong tech deals during Memorial Day weekend, but you’ll find the best prices on laptops, smartphones, tablets, monitors, printers and related accessories later this year. Gall recommends holding off on making those types of purchases until the back-to-school season, and Porwal says there will be a wider selection of discounted items to choose from, too. Amazon Prime Day and Father’s Day sales in June also tend to offer steep discounts on consumer electronics like gaming consoles.

Additionally, Labor Day sales are a better time to purchase clothing and shoes. “These items go on sale in August and September, when retailers need to clear inventory and know shoppers are gearing up for the fall season,” Gall explained. She also noted that if you have your eye on any items brands recently released, wait to purchase them, if possible. You’re likely to find them on sale during Labor Day weekend.

More Memorial Day shopping tips from experts

To ensure you don’t miss early Memorial Day promotions or limited-time offerings, be sure to sign up for your favorite brands’ and retailers’ email lists or SMS programs, and follow them on social media — Gall says these platforms are typically used to contact shoppers quickly, and some even offer additional exclusive discount codes. Experts also recommend using browser extensions to find coupons and cashback opportunities and looking out for member-exclusive deals, like for Amazon Prime, Walmart+ and Target Circle members. And if you’re paying with a credit card — especially if you’re making larger purchases — think about which one you use to maximize your spending.

When do Memorial Day sales start?

Memorial Day sales are not confined to the three day holiday weekend. Early Memorial Day sales start about a week before the holiday, which is one of the best times to shop — retailers often have the most inventory at this point, and if you’re buying items like patio furniture or grills, you’ll have time to set everything up and use it during the holiday, Porwal says. If you forget to shop Memorial Day sales or are traveling that weekend, Porwal says not to worry. Many sales extend through the following week into early June, especially at furniture and mattress stores.

What stores are open on Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is recognized as a federal holiday in the U.S. — some retailers may be closed for in-store shopping (like Costco, for example) or have limited hours. Here are a few retailers that keep their doors open for shoppers, which is helpful if you need to grab a bottle of sunscreen before heading to the beach or some extra groceries prior to a barbecue. Unless otherwise noted, all the below stores are open during regular business hours, but remember that hours vary by location.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Vipin Porwal is the founder and a consumer savings expert at Smarty, a cashback browser extension.
  • Kristen Gall is a retail and shopping expert at Rakuten, a shopping destination for earning cash back and rewards.

Why trust Select?

Zoe Malin is an associate updates editor at Select who covers sales like Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and more. For this piece, she interviewed two shopping experts to gather their tips about maximizing purchases during Memorial Day sales.

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