Deals & Bargains: Best Things to Buy in August

Last Updated Jul 29, 2011 5:22 PM EDT

August tends to be a slow month for some retailers and industries, while one of the best months for others. Companies that sell back-to-school items have got a busy month ahead. But in the Caribbean travel business, where hurricanes are expected - maybe not so much.

That's what makes August so unusual for bargain hunters.

Here are a list of hotly discounted items this month. If you're already in the market for any of these things, now is time to ring it up!

Backpacks
Retailers tend to drastically reduce prices on their backpacks in August, according to DealNews.com. Last August Kmart and Lands' End took 50% off backpacks; both currently offer some discounts, although nothing quite as steep ... yet. Last year JCPenney sold styles starting at just $2. I couldn't find any quite as cheap at the moment there, but the chain does have many Jansport backpacks on sale right now.
Some great deals:
Dorm Furniture

Need a futon or a few stacking crates? Walmart, Office Max and The Container Store are known to have very big sales in August. (But keep in mind, college students: You may not need quite as much as you think. See my recent post on 5 Things Not To Buy this back-to-school season.)

Some great deals:
Belts, Scarves and Accessories
Based on last year's online sales data, ShopItToMe, a free online personal shopper, found belts, scarves and other fashion accessories reaching their lowest price points in August. Online discounts averaged 52% off during August, compared with an average 47% the rest of the year. Why? They're not quite sure but it may have to do with retailers needing to get rid of lighter, more brightly colored fabrics and styles to make room for the fall designs.

Some great deals:
Women's Sleepwear
Women's light sleepwear was discounted an average 49% in August 2010 -- again, the best discounts seen all year, according to ShopItToMe. Victoria's Secret, for example, is running a 2-for-$35 special on summer pajamas. "Perhaps markdowns on sleepwear are the deepest in August to make room for cold-weather styles like flannel and fleece [sleepwear], which may look out of place if merchandised next to lightweight fabrics," says Annie Ladino, chief stylist at ShopItToMe.

Some great deals:
Athletic Shirts
ShopItToMe also found workout tees and sweatshirts had their best sales month in August last year, with average discounts of 47%. Macy's has activewear on sale currently for both men and women with lots of styles from Nike, Puma, Adidas and Ralph Lauren.

Some great deals:
Hotels
With fewer business trips in August, hotels tend to experience a slowdown this month, making the market ripe for deals if you're looking for last-minute summer stays. According to DealNews, Orbitz slashed hotel bookings by 15% last August -- the biggest discounts of the year. And Hotels.com advertised deals of up to 50% off with a stacking 10% off coupon. This year, check out TabletHotels.com and Jetsetter.com, as well. "There are a lot of flash sale web sites these days vying for people's attention," says Jason Clampet, senior online editor at Frommers.com.
Some great deals:
Caribbean Vacations
Trips to Jamaica, Bahamas and Bermuda are also on sale, with hurricane season under way this month. Just make sure you're protected. "If traveling any place close to the hurricane belt this summer, I'd definitely get some kind of travel insurance, because it hedges against the possibility of your trip being ruined and losing all your money," says Clampet. It may increase the cost of your trip by an extra 10 or 15%, but "that's still cheaper than traveling during peak season," he says.
Some great deals:
Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist and commentator. She is the author of the new book Psych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at www.farnoosh.tv and on Twitter/farnoosh
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    Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist and commentator. She is the author of the new book Psych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at www.farnoosh.tv and on Twitter at @farnoosh.

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