There's a lot to celebrate in May beyond longer days and beautiful weather: Mother’s Day outings, graduation parties, bridal showers and Memorial Day weekend activities will likely have you out and about in the coming weeks. That gives you plenty of reason to shop around for gifts for said events (or for your own spring refresh), not to mention to get what you need to gear up for summer fun ahead.

While retailers will offer up many sales this month — particularly on larger purchases for the home — not all deals are worthwhile. Here are the best buys to look out for in May, plus items to hold off on purchasing now (unless you're ready to pay up).


Mattresses. Want to create your dream bedroom? This is the time. Memorial Day weekend has long been *the* retail holiday for mattresses for a few reasons. First, retailers want to clear showrooms to make space for new models released in June. Second, it's the first warm long weekend of the year, so people will likely be out shopping — or available to wait at home to receive a furniture delivery. Plus, moving season kicks off this time of year, so those changing addresses or even just finishing spring cleaning might be ready for a bedroom overhaul.

Whatever the case, the savings is worth the wait. "Discounts of up to 60 percent off are common before and during the three-day weekend," says Sara Skirboll, a shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot. Even better, "the strongest deals tend to be in the days leading up to the Memorial Day weekend, averaging 45 percent off with a high of 70 percent off,” she adds.

Home Décor. Now's a good time to pick up accent pillows, patterned throws, artwork, curtains and other home décor items on the cheap. You’ll find plenty of sales this month aimed at new college graduates who are outfitting their first homes away from campus. Bonus: These items also make for good gifts for Mother's Day, grad parties or shower season.

Outdoor Grills. Already planning the menu for all your summer cookouts? Plan to save on a new grill in the latter half of May. Sales typically peak in the last two weeks of the month as we approach Memorial Day, Skirboll says, noting some models will be discounted as deeply as 40 percent off.

Kitchen Appliances. Markdowns on refrigerators begin early in the month, since new models come out in May and retailers need to make room for new inventory, Skirboll says. If you wait a little longer, discounts have historically reached up to 50 percent off by the second half of May.

Don’t need a new fridge? Smaller kitchen wares like microwaves, toasters, blenders and cookware will also be marked down to attract people moving homes this month.

Spring Apparel. See you in November, puffy coat! Spring fashions that have been on the racks since March are finally going on sale. Markdowns begin early in the month as stores clear room for new summer threads, but expect even bigger discounts — up to 90 percent off — during Memorial Day sales on new dresses, tops, denim, shorts and sandals.


Jewelry. Fine jewelry tends to get marked up twice a year — in the fall ahead of engagement season, and around Mother's Day. (Competition is so stiff around Valentine's Day, however, that jewelers often offer discounts to move merchandise.) Skip the heart-shaped necklace for mom this year and opt for another thoughtful gift. Jewelry prices will go back down through the summer during the industry's slow season.

Patio Furniture. If you pick up a new grill this month, hold off on updating any other outdoor furniture. Retailers anticipate homeowners want to get their backyard barbecue-ready, but that can come at a price. If you're looking for a deal, outdoor furniture goes on sale in September.

A Washer-Dryer Set. May might be a good time to upgrade small cookware, but avoid other big home appliances like washers, dryers and stoves. These items see better discounts in September around Labor Day weekend.

Swimwear and Pool Essentials. “New swimwear lines are hitting the racks at their highest price points," Skirboll says. "Instead of stocking up for the summer now, wait until mid-summer when retailers will start discounting prices for suits and other beach and pool essentials.” Translation: This year’s July 4th pool party is about to be your best yet.

Recommended Reading