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August sales 2021: Shop deals from Dell, Dyson and more

With back-to-school and end-of-season sales dominating August, major retailers like Target, Walmart and Best Buy are expected to host big deals this month.
Illustration of a Man wearing Tommy Hilfiger Softshell Classic Zip Jacket, a Man wearing Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Canceling Headphones, The North Face backpack, the Lenovo Yoga 7i 2-in-1 Laptop and a Man in a camper van with a kindle
From school supplies to tech, these are the best sales to shop in August. Macy's ; Amazon ; Lenovo ; The North Face ; Sony

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In most places, August typically marks the end of summer and the official transition back to school, which means plenty of sales on end-of-season items from retailers like Walmart, Best Buy and Target. The bulk of sales this month focus on back-to-school, with many anticipating a return to in-person learning despite an influx in Covid cases across the nation. The National Retail Federation expects total back-to-school spending to be $108.1 billion this year, a 6.4 percent rise from last year, with the average spending for all age groups predicted to rise 10.8 percent to $2,049.

There is a high demand for school supplies this year following advance child tax credits and stimulus checks. But between high production costs, supply shortages and other challenges, stores and retailers may struggle to offer discounts. Despite these issues, experts expect larger retailers to continue hosting deals and savings events “not only for students, but for basically everyone, including upgrades for the home, home office, work and the entire family,” said Vipin Porwal, the founder and consumer expert at Smarty.

SKIP AHEAD Best sales and deals in August

What to buy in August

Whether you’re returning to in-person learning or outfitting your dorm or home office, August is a great time to purchase a variety of supplies, from pens and folders to art supplies and backpacks. Not only do major retailers like Target, Amazon and Walmart have large school selections, but more than a dozen states also offer a tax-free shopping weekend on school supplies. “Some states include electronics, clothing, backpacks and shoes in their tax-free weekends,” noted Kristin McGrath, an editor at savings destination RetailMeNot.

In line with back-to-school, August will see deals on a variety of tech upgrades, including tablets, laptops and headphones, that can be a treasure trove of savings for everyone — not just students. McGrath suggested checking out Apple’s 2021 back-to-school offer — which includes free Airpods and discounts on select products — as well as Best Buy’s Deals of the Day for tech savings. “This will be the last time before Black Friday that you see a lot of popular tech on sale at the same time,” she said.

However, these deals won’t last very long. “Expect the majority of back-to-school sales to wind down at the end of August as most needs have been purchased for the beginning of the school year [by then],” said Porwal, adding that those looking for last-minute supplies can find savings during Labor Day and back-to-school clearance sales in early September. You can consider shopping for these supplies just before school is back in session — retailers will be eager to offload supplies at that point. “You may not want to use this tactic for items you actually need, as the shelves will be largely picked over by this point,” said McGrath. “But it can be a smart way to get essentials you know you or your kids will use next year at much-lower prices.”

Home items will also see discounts as retailers push dorm decor for college students, including throw pillows, desks and chairs, shower curtains, trash cans and more, according to McGrath. College students can take advantage of college-specific sales like Bed Bath & Beyond’s College Savings Pass through the end of September, which gets students 20 percent off all college supplies.

With the end of summer vacation around the corner, you can expect retailers to host end-of-season clearance sales and mark down everything summer-related, including clothing, outdoor products and camping equipment. “Knowing that shoppers’ priorities will change with the weather, retailers will move all that stuff to the clearance racks and price it to sell,” said McGrath.

With campgrounds and national parks seeing a surge in summer camping this year, McGrath added that top outdoor retailers like Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, Academy Sports + Outdoors and Walmart will likely have sales on outdoor equipment, including portable grills, tents, hammocks, chairs and more. And if you’re looking to revamp your own outdoor space, most retailers will likely be trying to sell their summer items as the season fades out, “which means patio furniture, patio umbrellas, outdoor dishes, outdoor rugs and grills will be on sale,” she said. As the colder weather gets closer, large retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s will also start marking down gardening equipment and tools like weed wackers and lawnmowers.

What shoppers should wait to purchase

While deals on tech like laptops and tablets are expected this month, August shoppers will want to wait for better sales on home electronics and video gaming accessories. “Pricing on those items gets more competitive as we approach the holiday shopping season” around Black Friday, said Porwal. Additionally, those in the market for a new smartphone “may want to hold off until the new models are announced for pre-order in the fall,” he added.

Biggest sales happening in August

Best deals to shop now

Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Canceling Headphones

One of the best noise cancelling headphones, these can pair with multiple devices at once, which can be useful for listening to music on your phone and taking a work Zoom meeting call through your laptop. It features built-in Amazon Alexa that gives you hands-free voice access to music, calls and other apps on your mobile device. To make you more comfortable with the noise cancelling properties, these headphones come with ambient sound control and quick attention mode that allows you to pause noise cancellation and participate in conversations.

Lenovo Yoga 7i 2-in-1 Laptop

  • Lowest price in the past 120 days, according to Honey

As the return to campus approaches, you might be looking for a laptop — if so, you may want to consider this Lenovo Yoga 7i. It has a 15-inch FHD display equipped with Dolby Vision and Intel Iris X graphics meant to make colors pop. It also has touchscreen capabilities and you can fold the keyboard back to use it like a tablet. It uses Intelligent Cooling that is designed to help prolong battery life by keeping your laptop from overheating.

The North Face Hydra 38 Backpack

  • Lowest price in the past 120 days, according to Honey

If you are planning a camping trip or hike before the close of the summer, you may want to consider the Hydra 38 backpack. It is designed with integrated sternum and hip straps that are meant to keep the weight of the pack evenly balanced. To keep all your tools and snacks organized, the backpack is equipped with multiple external pockets. The proprietary FlashDry back panel pushes moisture to the front of the fabric in order to repel it and keep you dry.

Levi’s Wedgie Fit Ankle Jeans (Limited Availability)

  • Lowest price in the past 120 days, according to Honey

According to Levi’s, this pair of jeans was inspired by one of its vintage designs. The construction of the jeans is meant to lift and flatter your backside. They are made from 100 percent cotton and non-stretch heavyweight denim. The jeans also sport light, subtle distressing and tapered leg openings with a raw hem.

Kindle Paperwhite

If you’re tired of lugging your paperback books to the beach or on your commute to work, you may want to consider the Kindle Paperwhite while it’s at its lowest price ever. It is meant to be the thinnest and lightest edition of the Paperwhite with at least twice the storage capacity of previous models at 8GB. (There is also a 32GB option). You can even bring the Kindle Paperwhite to the pool or beach since it boasts IPX8 water resistance. The screen has a 330 PPI glare-free display and adjustable lights for indoor and outdoor settings. It is available in Black, Plum, Sage and Twilight Blue.

Best Friends by Sheri The Original Calming Dog & Cat Bed

  • Lowest price in the past 120 days, according to Honey

The round design of this pet bed is meant to create a protective atmosphere to keep your dog or cat comfortable while they sleep. The soft faux shag fur is meant to be cozy while the insulation layer within radiates warmth from their own body heat. The bolstered edges are designed to provide additional orthopedic support. For easy cleaning, this dog/cat bed is machine-washable and dryer-safe.

Tommy Hilfiger Softshell Classic Zip Jacket

As the fall season approaches, you may be in the market for a new lightweight jacket. This one from Tommy Hilfiger is designed to have a contemporary look with a "classic" open bottom and stand collar. The outer layer is a soft shell made from polyester and spandex, while the interior has a mesh/fleece lining. It has a zip-front closure and two lower zip pockets with an interior zip pocket as well. The jacket is machine-washable and comes in Black, Heather Gray and Midnight.

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Rebecca Rodriguez, Shop TODAY and Shari Uyehara, Shop TODAY contributed.