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Labor Day Sales: Best and Worst Buys

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of the summer season and many families will celebrate with backyard barbecues and plenty of outdoor time. Labor Day is also one of the top weekends for retail sales, with shoppers seeing discounts on everything from paint to cars to summer apparel.

While Labor Day is a long weekend for most Americans, three days is not a lot of time to relax with family and friends and take advantage of sales. To help you maximize both your time and your savings, Coupon Sherpa has prepared the following Labor Day Sales Guide.

#LaborDay Sales: Best and Worst Buys | Coupon Sherpa

BEST LABOR DAY BUYS

Cars
If you’ve been shopping for a new (or new to you) vehicle, Labor Day weekend is a good time to commit to a purchase. Labor Day is the last three-day weekend of the year when consumers visit multiple dealerships to compare prices, and salespeople know to offer their best discounts in order to snag a sale. What’s more, 2017 cars are now considered last year’s models and dealerships are eager to rid their lots of “old” inventory by offering zero-percent financing, rebates and discounts of 10 to 20 percent, and total cash allowances of up to $5,500, depending on the vehicle.

Travel
September ushers in the shoulder season of travel, making getaways cheaper and less crowded after Labor Day weekend. September is a great time to visit national parks, take road trips or steal away for a quick getaway while the temperatures are still mild and kids are back in school. Look for discounts on hotels, airfare and car rentals, including up to 20-percent off stays at Onyx Hospitality Group properties, $30 off hotel bookings through Last Minute Travel, and one free day during rental periods of three days or more through Hertz (starting Sept. 1).

Summer Apparel, Shoes and Accessories
Warm-weather apparel, shoes and accessories are on sale and clearance prices over Labor Day weekend, with retailers offering extra savings to boost discounts by 10 to 20 percent. Total savings can exceed 80 percent in some cases, with designer brands discounting their seasonal items as well. Other retailers will offer coupons for extra savings on future shopping trips; Gap shoppers can earn $25 in GapCash for every $50 spent through Sept. 12, while The Children’s Place shoppers can earn $10 for every $20 spent through Sept. 11. For top offers on clothing, shoes and accessories, review our list of Labor Day coupons for in-store and online savings!

Swimwear
With pool and beach season coming to a close, swimwear is an excellent buy in September. Look for savings of up to 80-percent off bikinis, one-piece suits and cover-ups from stores like Gap and Nordstrom, as well as online specialty retailers including Swimsuits Direct and Swimsuits For All.

Back-to-School Supplies
September represents the last push for back-to-school coupons and promotions from retailers before Halloween and the holidays. Consumers should look for savings on basic supplies, backpacks and select clothing and shoes. Through Sept. 9, Office Depot is advertising 30-percent off qualifying $30 purchases of back-to-school items. Target offers search filters for supplies priced at less than $1, $3, $5 and $10, while Walmart is offering free in-store pickup on most school supplies.

Garden, Patio and Outdoor Items
If you need to update your outdoor patio set or barbecue grill, Labor Day weekend is a great time to take advantage of sales and clearance items. Weber Spirit Gas Grills are on sale for $50 off for a limited time at Lowe’s and Home Depot, while patio furniture is part of Overstock’s Labor Day sale with up to 70 percent savings.

Paint
Most home improvement stores put paint on sale ahead of long weekends since homeowners plan projects when they have more time. Both Lowe's and Home Depot are offering $10 to $40 off select paint, stains and resurfacers through mid-September via rebate. Beginning Aug. 24, Sherwin-Williams is offering 30-percent off paint and stains through Sept. 4, plus 20-percent off custom-order wallpaper.

WORST LABOR DAY BUYS

Fall Apparel, Including Denim
Retail operates two months ahead of the season, which is why you see fall apparel, shoes and accessories on showroom floors while it’s still 90-plus degrees outside. As tempting as it is to snatch up a few new fall styles, Labor Day and September in general are not the best times to purchase these items. Instead, hold off until October when fall apparel, shoes, denim and other accessories are discounted up to 50 percent. It’s especially smart to shop for these items over Columbus Day weekend, when you’ll find extra coupons and sales to deepen your discount.

Harvest and Halloween Decor
Stores are eager to get you into the autumn mood by displaying pumpkins, harvest decor and even Halloween costumes and candy as early as August. However, it’s better to hold off on purchasing these products until the season is actually in full swing. That’s when retailers set their sites on the holidays and you see evil Halloween masks sharing shelf space with Santa and his reindeer.

Exception: Popular kids’ costumes sell out quickly, so if you’ve promised your kids they can dress up as a character that’s in high demand, consider buying the item soon. To save money on this expense, seek out costume coupons or sign up for the retailer’s email club or free rewards program to receive a new member discount of 10 to 20 percent.

Toys
Since toys are such a hot holiday buy, stores start stocking up well ahead of the holiday season and tempting parents with small discounts. However, it’s better to wait until November and early December for the best deals on toys.

Exception: If your kids have their hearts set on an especially popular toy, it’s a good idea to set up a price-drop notification to get notified when the item first goes on sale. You may not get the very best price, but you can still take advantage of savings while ensuring the item doesn’t sell out before you can purchase it. If the product is available through Amazon, use the website CamelCamelCamel to create a notification. Otherwise, the free browser add-on Honey gives you price histories on popular products so you can estimate the best time to buy.

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