Not all holiday sales are created equal — but the differences can be subtle.
Memorial Day is May 28: Another holiday weekend, another holiday sale, right? But not so fast — are these retail blowouts just recycled deals?
Different holiday, same sales
Memorial Day weekend shoppers hit the brick-and-mortar stores in 2017. In fact, 79% of retail purchases took place in stores, while 16% were made online last Memorial Day weekend (May 26-29), according to data from over 50 million active Bank of America credit and debit cards.
Retailers continue to capitalize on holidays — like Memorial Day — when many Americans have time off of work. But some of these promotions are filled with not-so-unique deals.
“There’s a lot of these things that are kind of run-of-the-mill specials they’ll put in just as filler material,” says Dan Rice, associate professor of marketing at Louisiana State University.
New season, new deals
But it’s not all recycled deals. Some items really are cheaper at certain holiday sales.
The May holiday weekend is known for discounts on items like appliances, spring clothing, mattresses and some furniture.
Rice points out that product cycles and seasonality are important. So, for instance, spring clothing is cheaper at the end of spring. Winter clothing is cheaper at the end of winter. Current TVs are cheaper when new models are released.
Memorial Day vs. Presidents Day
We compared a handful of Memorial Day sales with February’s Presidents Day sales to see how one holiday weekend stacked up with another. Here’s what we found.
Refrigerating deals. The LG 28.6-cubic-foot French Door Refrigerator with Dual Ice Maker and Door within Door in stainless steel was on sale for $2,499 at home improvement store Lowe’s on Presidents Day. That number hasn’t heated up or cooled off this holiday. It’s on sale for $2,499 again as part of the store’s Memorial Day sale.
Spinning up prices. The Maytag 4.3-cubic-foot 8-Cycle High-Efficiency Front Loading Washer in white was on sale for $599.99 during Best Buy’s Presidents Day sale. That price is up $100 to $699.99 during the store’s Memorial Day sale. Both are lower than at the end of April, when Best Buy sold the washer for $809.99.
Re-wearing sales. The Levi’s Men’s 501 Original Fit Jeans are on sale for $39.99 through June 17 at Macy’s. The department store sold the same pair of jeans for $39.99 on Presidents Day.
Staying mostly the same. We also looked at products that aren’t typically associated with either Presidents Day or Memorial Day: electronics. At Best Buy, the Xbox One X ($499.99) and Fitbit Ionic ($299.95) are the same price during the Memorial Day sale as they were during the Presidents Day sale. The Apple Watch Series 3 is now on sale for $279. It was $329 on Presidents Day.
Act now, or later
Bottom line: If you miss Memorial Day, don’t fret. There will be more opportunities ahead to save money — like Labor Day in September and Black Friday in November.
Holiday sales in general are losing some of their luster because of the increasing number of sales that happen online, according to Russ Winer, a marketing professor at New York University's Stern School of Business.
“I think that the discounts and promotions that used to be [at] certain times of the year, now consumers are looking for these all year round,” Winer says.
All prices valid as of May 25, 2018.