How to prepare for big 4th of July sales

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But it may not be the best time for all of your biggest purchases

The summer is heating up, and as 4th of July weekend approaches, many consumers are preparing for some of the biggest sales of the year to heat up as well. 

With Amazon’s Prime Day sale happening the following week (July 11-12), what can consumers expect from 4th of July sales? What items should be swiped up before the holiday passes, and which ones need time to allow prices to fall even lower? 

Julie Ramhold from DealNews.com shared her best advice with ConsumerAffairs on all things July 4th sales, including when the sales start, overall best savings tips, and best buys of the holiday weekend. 

What to buy and what to avoid

The biggest question on most consumers’ minds during big sales: what should I buy? According to Ramhold, these are the items that are likely to get you the best deals this 4th of July: 

  • Mattresses: “This is one of the holiday shopping events that offers deep discounts on mattresses, so if you're in the market for a new bed, look for sales from furniture stores, mattress stores, department stores, warehouse clubs, and even home improvement retailers,” Ramhold said. “Discounts will vary but we've seen up to 60% off at select stores, while other retailers will slash prices by hundreds of dollars and even offer free gifts with select purchases.”

  • Major appliances: “These items rarely go on sale; in fact, we see discounts on this category as a whole less than 20% of the year typically. However, July 4th is one of those holidays that means discounts will be available, with stores like Home Depot, Lowe's, and Best Buy usually taking about 35% off. That said, local or independent appliance stores could also offer their own discounts, so be sure to think outside the box when shopping to ensure you find the best deals,” she explained. 

  • Electronics: “July 4th sales will be a good time to shop for a variety of electronics, including TVs and laptops. That said, some items may be cheaper when back-to-school sales roll around a couple of weeks later, so if you don't see any deals that are particularly enticing, you'll get another chance to find a great discount a short time later,” Ramhold said. 

What items aren’t going to yield the best deals during July 4th sales? 

  • School supplies: “There may be some early deals, particularly in the southern United States where schools tend to start back in early August, but for the most part you're better off waiting until back-to-school sales really get underway,” she said. “That should be mid-July at the earliest, though more will pop up at the end of the month and even more will occur in August.”

  • Patio furniture: “There will definitely be patio furniture deals popping up in July 4th sales and they'll certainly be better than what we saw around Memorial Day, but if you aren't in need of them just yet, you can find even better offers by waiting for just one more month or so. By August, summer will be winding down so stores will start offering more and bigger discounts on patio furniture. If you can hold off until Labor Day, you may see even better offers, but waiting until at least August and early Labor Day sales can help you to save on this pricey purchase,” said Ramhold. 

  • Grills: “This is another item that's in high demand for the summer and like patio furniture, we'll see discounts around July 4th. But once again, if you can wait at least another month, you may find better discounts and a bigger selection to shop, too,” she said. “If you can wait until September or October, you could find even better offers as retailers rush to try to clear the shelves and make way for more wintry products.”

Making the most of the sales

Consumers should start preparing for these sales, as most retailers start rolling out their best deals within two weeks of the 4th of July.

Some retailers have already started their holiday sales, including AllBirds, Serta, Beautyrest, Birch, Mattress Firm, Macy’s, Dyson, Home Depot, Best Buy, and more. Check with your favorite stores – especially if there’s something you’ve been eyeing for some time because you want to be sure to make your purchase within the timeframe of the sale. 

For consumers who plan to do a lot of shopping this holiday weekend and want to make the most of the deals, Ramhold suggests the following: 

  • “Shop ahead of time. This doesn't mean to buy anything just yet, but it's worth browsing your favorite retailers for any items you're interested in now so that you can determine whether or not a deal is any good when the sales begin.

  • Use cashback apps and browser extensions. Whether you're shopping in-person or online, these can make the savings go even further. Sites like Rakuten may even have bonuses for July 4th sales which means you may be able to earn even more cash back than usual for the holiday.

  • “Think outside the box. Don't expect the sales to always be called July 4th sales or Independence Day sales. Be sure to check your favorite retailers in case they're changing it up and calling it something different. You may even want to consider signing up for emails from your favorite retailers closer to the holiday, especially if you haven't done so before. Many stores will offer savings on your first purchase – between 10% and 15% or even more sometimes – so if you wait a bit to sign up, you can try to stack those welcome savings with whatever sale they're hosting.” 

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