Hoping to take advantage of some of the Memorial Day sales this weekend? Shop carefully.
Stores play up their discounts on certain categories to get shoppers through their doors, but better bargains can often be found on other items, according to an analysis of historical data from Ben's Bargains, a deal and coupon site that was started in 2000 by a student at University of California, Berkeley.
While Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the country's armed forces, the holiday weekend is also viewed by many as the unofficial start of summer. The most popular Memorial Day weekend activity is visiting friends or relatives, followed by dining out and shopping, with all three activities outpacing going to the beach or sightseeing, according to a AAA survey.
This year, Americans have a little more money in their pockets, thanks to lower prices at the gas pump. The average price for a gallon of regular gas is $2.73, down 25 percent from a year ago, according to AAA.
Many stores will be open extended hours, hoping to lure shoppers and their extra dollars.
But before you open your wallet, read on to learn about which items you should avoid and which offer better deals.
Because these lines have recently hit the racks, they won't offer shoppers the best discounts. Stores may discount summer clothing by 20 percent to 40 percent off the retail price, but that's a far cry from the steep discounts shoppers can find on spring clothing.
Spring clothing lines may carry discounts as deep as 90 percent at retailers including Old Navy, Macy's, Kohl's and JC Penney, according to Ben's Bargains.
For those looking for a new swimsuit, it's best to wait until the end of summer, when swimwear will be much cheaper.
Avoid buying electronics this weekend, advises Ben's Bargains. Deals generally aren't very good, given that retailers tend to wait until August to put laptops on sale for back-to-school season and televisions are discounted when football season begins. Waiting until November will score even bigger savings when it comes to electronics, the company said.
Instead, shoppers may want to replace old appliances or shop for new ones. This weekend, chains such as Sears, Home Depot and Lowe's will offer deals on major and minor appliances between 25 percent to 60 percent.
If you can hold off until the end of summer, it's best to buy a new grill then, when discounts will go as deep at 75 percent. This weekend, shoppers will see discounts on grills of about 20 percent. That's good, but not as tasty as what they could save after August.
Instead, considering buying a tabletop gas grill, which can cost less than $50 and get families through the summer.
Shoppers will see plenty of sales on patio furniture this weekend, but the discounts will be even steeper if they hold off just a month or two. This weekend, discounts will range from 20 percent to 30 percent, but that will fall to as much as 70 percent by late July or early August.
Instead, the better option when it comes to household furniture is to shop for a new mattress. Retailers such as Macy's will offer mattress sales with discounts as deep as 80 percent this weekend, Ben's Bargains said.
Fitness and workout gear
Hold off on buying new fitness products until June, when big-box and sports retailers will be putting their older products on sales.
Instead, consider buying camping gear, given that May is the best time to find sales on camping equipment. Discounts on gear that will help you enjoy a weekend under the stars will range from 30 percent to 80 percent, Ben's Bargains noted.