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For many, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. You may be planning a barbecue, picnic or trip to the beach, but don’t forget to make time for shopping, too. Dozens of brands and retailers host Memorial Day sales during the holiday weekend, many of which have already begun. To ensure you save the most money while shopping, it’s important to identify which product categories typically offer the best savings opportunities and which you might be better off skipping. We talked to experts about what to buy during Memorial Day sales, what to hold off on and how to stretch your budget.

SKIP AHEAD What to buy during Memorial Day sales | What to skip during Memorial Day sales | When do Memorial Day sales start? | What stores are open on Memorial Day? | Expert shopping tips

What to buy during Memorial Day sales

Memorial Day — Monday, May 27, 2024 — is known for sales on big-ticket items like furniture and household appliances. Think small appliances like vacuums, steam cleaners, air fryers and toaster ovens, as well as large appliances like washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators. You’ll also see lots of deals on mattresses and bedding, as well as gardening supplies, says Shannon Dwyer, a shopping expert at RetailMeNot. Since Memorial Day is typically when people gather with friends and family, many stores offer discounted food and beverages, making the long weekend a great time to save on groceries.

Brands and retailers tend to use Memorial Day sales to clear out last season’s inventory and make room for next season’s new products, says Adam Davis, a managing director on the Wells Fargo Retail Finance marketing team. Because of this, some of the steepest discounts are on electronics from previous generations, older mattress models and spring clothing and footwear. “Retailers want to sell spring items at much steeper discounts since they’ll have the entire summer season to sell summer merchandise when it’s in high demand,” he says.

What to skip during Memorial Day sales

Memorial Day may kickstart summer, but it’s the worst time to buy summer apparel and home goods, experts told us. That includes outdoor patio furniture, beach accessories and grills. “If you’re patient, outdoor items and summer clothing will be available at deeper discounts in August and September. That’s when retailers make room for the next major selling season’s merchandise, including fall and holiday products,” says Davis. “It’s a seasonal cycle and retailers typically want to sell in-season merchandise with limited promotions.” That said, don’t shop for school supplies just yet, if possible. You’ll see lower prices on related items like backpacks, lunchboxes and stationary toward the end of the summer.

Also, consider waiting to purchase the latest technology and electronics, says Dwyer. You’ll see them on sale during Memorial Day, but brands offer better deals on laptops, tablets and gaming consoles during Amazon Prime Day in July.

When do Memorial Day sales start?

You can start shopping Memorial Day sales right now, but big retailers typically offer the best prices in the week before the holiday and during the three-day weekend.

When do Memorial Day sales end? 

Most Memorial Day sales end on Monday, May 27, says Davis. A handful of retailers extend their sales into the following week. However, they usually don’t announce extended offerings until the day after the holiday, and sometimes the sales aren’t as strong. For example, a brand may offer 45% off sitewide over Memorial Day weekend but 25% off select items the following week. Ultimately, your best bet is to shop before Memorial Day ends — that ensures you can take advantage of the best prices and browse the fullest inventory. 

Are there better deals in stores or online during Memorial Day?

You’ll see many of the same Memorial Day sales in stores and online, so where you shop comes down to personal preference, says Davis. “For example, some people may prefer an in-store experience for appliances and furniture unless they’ve done their homework in advance and know exactly what they want,” he says.

If you’re shopping online, make sure you factor in shipping costs before you check out, says Dwyer. Delivery fees add up, and there may be an extra charge for large items like furniture or mattresses. Many stores offer buy online and pickup in-store options, which can help you avoid high shipping fees, so keep that in mind.

Expert shopping tips: How to make the most of Memorial Day sales

Signing up for email lists or SMS programs is the best way to stay updated about your favorite brands’ and retailers’ Memorial Day sales, says Dwywer. They use these platforms to contact shoppers quickly; some offer exclusive discount codes. Also, sign up for loyalty programs like Amazon Prime, Walmart Plus and Target Circle if you’re interested in taking advantage of member-exclusive deals, and compare prices on items across similar retailers to ensure you’re getting the lowest price. If you’re paying with a credit card — especially if you’re making larger purchases — consider which one to use to maximize your spending.

What stores are open on Memorial Day?

Since Memorial Day is recognized as a U.S. federal holiday, some retailers may be closed for in-store shopping or have limited hours. Many big-box retailers like Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Kohl’s keep their doors open for shoppers on Memorial Day, as do pharmacies and grocery stores like CVS, Rite Aid and Sam’s Club. But hours vary by location, so check a store’s website before leaving home if you plan on visiting in person during the holiday weekend.

Meet our experts

At NBC Select, we work with experts with specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and experience. We also ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Adam Davis is a managing director on the Wells Fargo Retail Finance marketing team. 
  • Shannon Dwyer is a shopping expert at RetailMeNot, a deal-finding and cashback website.

Why trust NBC Select?

Zoe Malin is an associate updates editor at NBC Select who writes about sales and deals, including articles on Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Memorial Day. For this article, she interviewed two experts about what to shop during Memorial Day and what sales to skip.

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