By the time Labor Day arrives, consumers have lots of things to buy for the new season ahead.
That means they bring out their wallets, says Darrin Duber-Smith, a marketing professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. And retailers deliver a whirlwind of deals on things like clothing and furniture.
If you plan to spend some of your three-day weekend shopping, here’s how to make the most of Labor Day sales.
Know what to expect
Labor Day, coming on Sept. 3 this year, falls between two juggernaut discount events: Prime Day in July and Black Friday in November. So to make Labor Day enticing, retailers have to give the September holiday its own unique trademark.
The sales are typically branded with a theme, according to Duber-Smith. Usually one that’s not a far stretch — something like celebrating labor, or a seasonal spin. For the latter, marketers take one of two approaches: out with summer or in with fall.
“If you’re saying goodbye to summer, you’re going to be doing a lot of inventory clearance, and you’re going to be giving people reasons to extend their summer,” Duber-Smith says.
“Or, you’re talking about bringing in the new inventory and welcoming in fall. So sales on things like heavy coats and all of your winter wear.”
Almost every store you can imagine will capitalize on Labor Day sales, Duber-Smith says, and they happen both in-store and online. Look for them at department stores, home improvement stores and even restaurants.
Know what to buy
Shoppers should anticipate the biggest Labor Day discounts on product changeover categories, says Janell Townsend, a professor and chair of marketing at Oakland University.
Retailers will clear out products so they don’t have to hold onto excess inventory or send items back to their suppliers. And products on their way out will be less expensive than the ones replacing them.
“Any time you’re seeing that changeover, and retailers are trying to liquidate inventory so that they can have new things coming in, that’s going to be your best bet,” Townsend says.
Specifically, you’ll save money on outgoing seasonal items such as summer clothing, lawn mowers, grills, patio furniture, back-to-school supplies and gardening tools.
Additionally, consumers can expect 2018 cars to be marked down as 2019 models arrive, according to Townsend.
Know how to shop
It’s not all summer closeouts. There are some “loss leaders” thrown in the mix, too, Townsend says. These can be more relevant products for the upcoming season that are offered at low prices to get shoppers in the door, such as fall school clothing.
Some deals over holiday weekends such as Labor Day can actually beat Black Friday offerings, Duber-Smith says, despite the fact that Black Friday is typically touted as the best time to buy just about anything.
If you’re thinking ahead, he says Labor Day sales are an opportune time to begin your holiday shopping and spread out some of your seasonal spending.
But remember to think like a retailer, advises Townsend. Once stores lure you in with a handful of the best deals, you may find that they’re located at the very back of the store — forcing you to wade through aisles of not-so-stellar deals.
“That’s why the clearance section of the store is almost always at the back, because you have to walk through the store,” she says.
Bottom line: Stay focused on what you came for and don’t drift into departments that offer items you don’t need.