What to Buy (and Avoid Buying) in May

by Paul Michael on 1 May 2013 4 comments

April showers have gone bye-bye (I hope), and we’re all looking forward to a few months of warm weather and hot bargains. May brings with it a fair amount of steals, and the usual handful offers that aren’t quite up to scratch. (See also: Shopping Calendar: The Best Time to Buy Anything)

What to Buy

May has one of the biggest shopping days of the year nestled within it — Memorial Day. And that brings some very memorable bargains with it. Here are the top ones.

1. Spring Clothing

What, really? But it’s…spring. Well, yes it is, and the retail stores are packing their shelves with all the big summer items you want. To do so, they’re getting rid of spring clothing by the truckload. Now is the time to grab your light jackets, long sleeved tees, and other merchandise that you usually reserve for the mild weather. Remember, Memorial Day (May 27) is coming, but those big discounts may not leave you with many options by that time. So, shop early to avoid empty racks. 

2. Gym Memberships

If you know the gym membership cycle, you know May is a tough month for them. The New Year’s Resolutions crowd has started to cancel their dues, and other people are plumping to get on bicycles, play outdoor sports, and generally avoid the gym like it’s a plague ship. You have the power to haggle a deal, especially at some of the smaller gyms. Initiation fees and sign up fees will be waived. Even the big ones will try and entice you, and if nothing else, you should be able to grab some free schwag like a gym bag or track suit. Be tough. They need you. 

3. 3D TVs

Do you know what an Ultra HDTV is? Well, you're about to. This new model debuted last month at surprisingly low prices, meaning the pressure is on for retailers to get rid of current stock. Expect to find whopping 55-inch 3D TVs for under $800! And regular 55-inch LCD TVs will be around $600. Insanity, considering how expensive they were just a few years ago. 

4. Mattresses

May is mattress month. If the lumpy bed is way past its prime, now is the time to throw it out and grab yourself a new one at a great price. As always, Memorial Day is THE day to get the best deal. Why? Who knows, but the mattress companies have picked that holiday as the one to offer the best prices of the year. Take advantage of them. 

5. Vacuum Cleaners

Last month, they were on the “avoid” list. This month, it’s a different story. Spring cleaning started in March and April, and now the manufacturers want to start getting rid of the old models before new ones a released this month. If your current model sucks (because it doesn’t suck) now is the time to grab a new vacuum for a very handsome discount.

6. Mother’s Day Leftovers

Mother’s Day is May 12 (handy reminder for you there). After that, you’ll see prices hit rock bottom on the specialist items like Mother’s Day branded chocolates, flowers, fragrances, cards, and more. If you plan ahead, you could take the sting out of the price of Mother’s Day next year. 

7. Houses

Summer is peak time to sell houses. The prices are starting to rise, and demand is rising, too. BUT, it’s not peak time just yet, and you can still get in under the radar for some very nice deals. This is a good time to beat out buyers who haven’t yet committed to buying

8. Boots

Who needs big, clunking winter boots? Well, we all do in winter, so grab them now when they go on sale. I recently saw big winter boots for 75% off in places like Target and Kohl's. Get them now, and you’ll be patting yourself on the back come November.

9. Party Supplies

Graduations, picnics, and grilling season bring deals galore on disposable plates, cutlery, and other throwaway gear. Stock up now and have everything you need before the season of outdoor snacking begins.

10. Cookware

Weddings and graduations are also attracting seasonal promotions on cookware. Many stores have dinner services, silverware, pots, pans and kitchen gadgets on sale to lure in the gift shoppers. Grab a few bargains. 

What to Avoid

May also brings with it a fair share of “bargains” that aren’t all they could be. Avoid the following, and wait until the deals are worth the trip.

1. Gaming Consoles and Games

It’s not just a bad time to buy these…it’s really bad. Sony is updating its PlayStation and there’s a new Xbox on the horizon. When those systems are ready to be launched, prices on the current models will fall faster than a skydiver without a parachute. You will be able to bag an Xbox 360 for $99, and probably get a free game with it. And as for games, the new systems will not play the titles available now. That means they will also go for dirt-cheap prices. 

2. Grills

The warmer the weather gets, the more people start salivating for the taste of grilled meats and veggies. Be it charcoal, wood, gas, or a combination, grills are hot products right now. And that means the prices are not. Give your wallet a break, and get a used grill from Craigslist. Some people just can't wait to have a bigger, brighter grill, and you’ll get a great one for pennies on the dollar. 

3. Jewelry

What do moms love? That’s right, jewelry. And as Mother’s Day is on May 12, you will see high demand at the beginning of the month for sparkling gifts of all shapes and sizes. Of course, they don’t go off either, so they won’t be going on sale right after. Give the bling a miss, and think of something a little different that will not break the bank. 

4. Laptops

You will find some decent deals on laptops in May, but the best time to buy them is in the Back to School sales. If you can hold out, you’ll get some great deals in mid-July. 

5. Patio Furniture

Stores like Target have already started discounting their outdoor furniture, but not by much. 15% off here and there is not the kind of deal you deserve. And you will get massive savings later in the summer, when the shelves are being stocked with items for Halloween. Check your local thrift stores and Craigslist for good deals on patio furniture and outdoor rugs.


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Guest's picture

Interesting list. I would have guessed items that are in season like Spring Clothing would be most expensive in the spring and they can be had for less at the end of the summer.

Guest's picture

All about that gym membership! I've been looking for one since my college has their gym closed for the summer, I guess now is the perfect time to look! :)

Guest's picture

I love the suggestions. I am not a huge shopper but I LOVE bargain hunting. There is some sort of satisfaction that comes with it, but there is also that awful feeling when you see an item for a lot cheaper later than you paid for it. This just happened to me with the TV. I bought my TV when they were on sale for Super Bowl but I could have put it off further. On the plus side, I won't go out and buy that grill I was planning to buy on Friday. Well, maybe I will since I don't have one and just moved into a new place and kept telling myself I was getting one for myself as house warming. I guess I can splurge on that.

Guest's picture

I like the idea of buying 3D TV this summer. I have not checked yet on the prices, but if the prices really drops low, I am considering it.