The darling buds of May are still blooming pretty much on schedule, but the collective social distancing measures we’re practicing will affect how we commemorate many of the things we traditionally celebrate this month, including Mother’s Day, graduations and Memorial Day.
“There are a lot of adjustments we’re all needing to make given the new normal,” says Sara Skirboll, a shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot. “Normally, we base our projections on what happened last year and the year before. We don’t really know yet if this pandemic will change all of this, so it pays to spend a few moments researching the best deals.”
Collin Morgan, founder of Hip2Save, notes that with Memorial Day sales in particular, “you can usually save big on dishwashers, freezers, ranges and other big kitchen appliances. However, this year may be a bit different. Due to COVID-19 keeping so many people home more, many fridges and freezers are sold out.”
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still deals to be had. Whether you’re trying to spruce up a makeshift home office or want to celebrate your mom or a recent graduate with a special gift, here are some of the best things to buy in May — and what you can hold off on until later this year.
WHAT TO BUY IN MAY
Traditional Mother’s Day Gifts. In the days leading up to May 10, “You’ll find deals on flowers, chocolates, perfume, restaurant and retail gift cards, home decor, greeting cards and more,” Morgan says. “But just because it’s a holiday, that doesn’t mean the deals are always great. Be sure to compare prices and check warehouse savings.”
Looking for a gift that’s a bit more unexpected? Skirboll points to Mother’s Day specials being offered by genealogy services companies. “A unique and thoughtful gift for the mother figure in your life is to take a deep dive into family history,” she says. For example, Ancestry.com is offering 20 percent off a gift membership for mom and 23andMe is promoting a deal for $50 off the price of one Health + Ancestry kit or $150 off when you purchase two.
Maternity and Baby Gear. Speaking of moms, May brings great discounts on maternity clothing for new and expectant mothers as well as some baby essentials. “If you are preparing for a baby shower in the next few months, wanting to stock up for future ones to come, or even shopping for yourself, you can find deals like 30 percent off select styles at Motherhood Maternity,” Skirboll says.
The early summer months are also the best time to save on strollers and other baby items, Morgan adds.
Mattresses. Almost everyone is losing some sleep nowadays, but if you’ve deduced that your lumpy mattress may be partially to blame, this is a great time to buy a new one. “From air mattresses to regular mattresses, retailers offer nice discounts during Memorial Day on large selections of their mattresses,” Morgan says.
Skirboll suggests using the whole month to conduct research. “Regardless of the mattress type, you should hold off until late May for the biggest savings,” she says. “Historically, shoppers can find deals upward of 75 percent off.”
Small Kitchen Appliances. We’re cooking at home more these days, so now might be a good time to upgrade that old coffee maker or blender. “Shoppers can take advantage of sales on these small appliances, as well as vacuums and other kitchen essentials,” Skirboll says. “For example, Best Buy is running a 20-percent-off special on select small kitchen appliances.”
Home Furniture. Between the transition to a new season and spending more time indoors, many people might be in the mood to revamp their home décor — and now would be a good time to replace furniture that has seen better days. “New models and styles are being released this month, so retailers want to make room for new inventory,” Skirboll says. “For instance, Target has deals of up to 25 percent off.”
Athletic Apparel and Accessories. “As soon as the weather starts warming up, people want to get in shape for swimsuit season,” Morgan says. “So expect to see discounts on athletic apparel.”
Skirboll adds that there are some unusually strong deals across retail and accessory categories now. “Likely due to the pandemic, we are seeing sales at places we normally wouldn’t this time of year,” she says. “Big chain stores like the Gap, Banana Republic and Nordstrom are offering some deep discounts.”
WHAT TO SKIP IN MAY
Patio Furniture and Grills. Unless you truly need these items for your family summer dinners, hold off. “The end-of-summer sales offer the best deals,” Skirboll says. “That’s really when you should be buying anything you would use outside of your home.”
Jewelry. There will be specials for jewelry around Mother’s Day, but prices tend to fall throughout the summer during the industry's slow season. “I actually always say the best time to buy jewelry is in January,” Skirboll says.
Swimwear Essentials. You may see deals in this category but you’re better off waiting if you can. “These items are typically reduced in the later months of summer with the real discounts not coming until July and August,” Morgan says.