Making a Major Purchase? Wait for Memorial Day

Holiday Tips & News, Money Saving Tips, Personal Finance
memorial day

A day to commemorate fallen members of the military and an excuse to go shopping wouldn’t seem to go hand-in-hand, but for retailers, the unlikely marriage works.

Memorial Day is a prime time for deals on appliances, furniture, mattresses and other big-ticket items. Here’s why you should wait to make a major purchase until May 29.

A seasonal reason to spend

Memorial Day isn’t necessarily meaningful as a day for deals in and of itself, according to Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and author of New York Times best-seller “Contagious: Why Things Catch On.”

But Berger says consumers are more likely to turn out for discount events when multiple retailers host sales, so there are benefits — from a retail perspective — to focusing on the same sale days.

The timing of Memorial Day is also strategic, Berger says, as it’s been several months since Christmas and its attendant sales. The holiday is viewed as a kickoff to summer, adds Melissa Gonzalez, CEO of The Lionesque Group, a retail strategy firm. Shoppers are ready to spend in anticipation of a new season.

Better weather adds another element: Consumers are more likely to head outside to shop, which retailers hope will translate to increased impulse buys.

“It also drives traffic in store that may not have entered otherwise, and allows retailers to showcase newly placed, full-priced merchandise” to the influx of customers, Gonzalez said in an email.

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Big deals on big-ticket items

Stores compete over the holiday weekend to help their own bottom line, but Memorial Day benefits shoppers, too. It brings price reductions on refrigerators, bedroom sets and even cars.

Last year, online retailer Wayfair discounted patio furniture by up to 70%, and Mattress Firm offered up to $300 off mattresses storewide. Best Buy even gave away a free TV with the purchase or lease and activation of select smartphones.

Do your homework, too. Price history tracker websites like CamelCamelCamel and price alert browser extensions like Slice Watch can help you verify that a discount price is in fact better than what the item was selling for in the months prior to the sale.

Further guard your spending by avoiding those tempting displays of full-priced new arrivals. For example, Gonzalez says, opt for spring clothes as opposed to newer summer styles.

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2017 sales are here

Ready to start bargain hunting? We’re still a few days away from Memorial Day parades and barbecues, but some retailers have fired up their holiday sales early.

Here’s a look at what you can expect out of this year’s promotions, both now and in the coming days:

  • Bear Mattress: May 24 through May 29, use code MD100 online for $100 off any size Bear Mattress.
  • Birch Lane: May 24 through May 30, get free shipping and 20% off select products with code SUPER.
  • Dyson: Through June 10, save up to $150 on select Dyson products.
  • Joss & Main: May 25 through June 5, use code MEMDAY to get 20% off select furniture categories.
  • Lowe’s: Through June 7, get up to 30% off select appliance special values of $396 or more. Some exclusions apply.
  • Mattress Firm: Through June 4, save up to $1,000 storewide.
  • Maytag: Through May 31, receive up to a $600 prepaid debit card by mail with purchase of select kitchen appliances.
  • Overstock: Through May 29, shop savings across the site, including up to 70% off mattresses and memory foam and up to 55% off luggage.

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See specific stores for more information, including redemption details and exclusions. Happy Memorial Day, and happy shopping!

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @CourtneyNerd.