The Best and Worst Things to Buy in September

While the waves and ebbs of shopping can be dictated by the economic tide, among other ever-changing factors, there are also certain annual trends that merchants follow faithfully (when conditions will allow). And to understand these trends means a consumer can shop with greater savvy for saving. (See also: Shopping Calendar: The Best Time to Buy Anything)

So at dealnews, we've mined our extensive archives of sales, coupons, and individual products from the past few years to find trends that can guide the buying experience in September. Here's what we found:

Labor Day Sales

Just because it's a holiday weekend doesn't mean you should automatically whip out your credit card. We saw numerous special discounts and sales for Labor Day weekend last year from popular retailers (like Macy's, Gap, Kmart, Kohl's, and Home Depot), but in many cases, those discounts were about on par with offers we saw in previous months.

However, select retailers (like Converse, Bath & Body Works, Rockport, Express, Men's Wearhouse, Forever 21, Sears, and Eddie Bauer) featured the best discounts we had seen that year during this weekend, and most of the best sales were for apparel, sneakers, and sandals.

So if you're on a lookout for clothing, it might be a good weekend to snatch up late-season apparel — a lot of which you can easily transition into a fall wardrobe. Also, keep an eye out for Labor Day coupons that will take an extra discount from existing markdowns. According to our data, they can offer as much as an extra 35% off, but normally fall between an extra 15% to 25% off. In many cases they aren't the best coupons we've seen from these stores; for example, Gap offered a 25% off coupon last year during this weekend, when we had seen several 30% off codes in July and August. But in many cases, the codes stack with existing sales and provide a nice incentive during a weekend you may already be planning to shop.


Despite the numerous clothing sales you'll see during Labor Day weekend, apparel might be a difficult category to shop for in the upcoming fall season. Because of increased cotton and labor prices earlier in the year, prices for new fall apparel may increase by as much as 10%. (Even though cotton prices have dropped significantly since that early spike, fall is when we'll start to see the effects in stores.) September may still be early enough to miss some of these projected increases, but for season-appropriate apparel, you should consider shopping sites like 6pm that feature older stock that's immune to the current production cost issues.

And, as far as sales on previous season items go, you may benefit from waiting until October. Although we noted many clothing sales during Labor Day weekend, we also mentioned that many weren't the best we had seen. For men's apparel, for example, we saw 30% more Editors' Choice-level deals in October than we did in September.

Bed and Bath

Deals were rather strong in September 2010 for bedding, towels, and more. Specifically, we saw several Editors' Choice options for bedding sets. Keep an eye out for these discounted home items from the likes of Walmart, Kohl's, and Bed, Bath & Beyond. (There were great sales all around at Kohl's, especially when you factor in the free shipping and stacking 10% off coupons that the merchant offered in September in both 2009 and 2010.)


Around this time of year, the next major trip you have planned may very well be for Thanksgiving. And even though you may be tempted to purchase airfare early, our data suggests you could get a better deal in October. We saw zero Editors' Choice-level flight sales in September, and several in October (from Virgin America, Frontier, and Southwest, among others), as well as a general increase in volume.

Car Accessories

Conventional wisdom says that September, particularly around Labor Day, is one of the best times of the year to buy a car. dealnews can't specifically confirm that, as we don't list cars, but we do however track car accessories. And interestingly enough, we saw a slight increase in deals for auto goods in the month of September. In particular, accessories to enhance a car, from car mats to brake pads, were more prominent. We saw great sales from Amazon and Sears too, mainly in the first two weeks of the month.


Last September we saw a spike in 55" LCD LED TV prices as they jumped from August's best price of $1,400 to $1,710. (3D sets also jumped from $2,114 to $2,272.) The good news is that October immediately rings in a significant drop in TV prices, which continues until the end of the year. Thus, we expect most sets to hit new lows come November and December. September is the month we recommend skipping if you're in need of a new LCD HDTV.


When it comes to laptops, September is an odd month to make purchases. It's too late to take advantage of back-to-school sales, and it's too early to see any Black Friday-like pricing. In fact, last year September prices on a 16" mainstream laptop were slightly up from August prices (jumping $21 from $858 to $879). October deals were much more aggressive with prices dropping as low as $769. We expect a similar trend this year, but if you're looking for the greatest discount, wait until November.

This post is by Dealnews.

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Meg Favreau's picture

All the stress of moving last weekend seems a little bit better knowing that, at the very least, it's a good time to buy new sheets for my new apartment.

Guest's picture

On apparel--I'd definately avoid the back-to-school clothing. September is high season for back to school (August too) so you'll pay more being part of the heavy traffic.

Best to buy in June and July, or wait until October. Better yet, try thrift shops--they never raise their prices for the seasons, and kids grow out of the clothing so fast anyway.