What to buy (and skip) in May

Department stores such as Macy’s, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney and Kmart, as well as home and kitchen specialty stores, are expected to offer discounts on small kitchen appliances during Memorial Day sales. Above, Macy’s Herald Square store in midtown Manhattan.
(TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP/Getty Images)

While you’re stopping to smell the flowers this May, you might want to admire some sweet sales too.

Here’s everything you should buy (and skip) during the month of May.

Buy: Furniture

We recommended holding off on major household purchases until May. That’s because Memorial Day is a great time to buy indoor furniture, patio furniture and even mattresses at discounted prices.


Last year, J.C. Penney discounted select furniture styles up to 50%, while Crate & Barrel offered a promo code good for 15% off select items.

This year, Memorial Day is May 30, but sales often begin at least a week earlier. Some retailers are already gearing up. Remember that some prices are automatically reduced — as was the case at J.C. Penney in 2015 — but other sales require consumers to input a coupon code at checkout.

Skip: Home electronics

We suggest making electronics purchases in November, when prices on laptops, tablets, gaming consoles and other electronics are usually at their lowest, thanks to Black Friday events. Last year, a handful of major stores sold video game console bundles for just $299.


Buy: Small kitchen appliances

While you’re outfitting your home with a new sofa, chair or table at Memorial Day sales, check out the coffee makers, blenders and other small kitchen appliances too.

Look for discounts at department stores, such as Macy’s, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney and Kmart, as well as at home and kitchen specialty stores.

Last year, Macy’s offered up to 20% off select kitchen items, and Williams-Sonoma handed out savings of up to 60%. We also saw plenty of free shipping offers for orders above a certain threshold.


Skip: iPhones

Apple recently released its 4-inch iPhone SE. This announcement might have you itching for an upgrade, but hold off for a few more months.

Rumors suggest that the tech company will be unveiling a new iPhone 7 at its annual keynote event in September. If that pans out, prices on previous iPhone models at Apple and third-party retailers are likely to drop.

Buy: Spring apparel


Clothing sales are a given each May. Now that warm-weather styles have been on shelves for a few months, you can expect retailers to bring down prices.

Our best advice for finding these deals? First, check retailers’ sale sections or clearance racks both in-store and online. Then register for your favorite clothing store’s email list — it might send you exclusive deals. Finally, fill your cart with sale-priced shirts and shorts while you’re getting that KitchenAid mixer and coffee table on Memorial Day.

Bonus: “Star Wars” Day

May 4 is “Star Wars” Day, and you’ll be feeling the force when you see the “Star Wars"-themed deals and discounts that come on this day each year. Last year, we spotted price cuts on apparel inspired by the movie series, video games and more. If prior years are any indication, we expect savings at outlets including Amazon and the Disney Store.


Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website.

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