How to navigate the Labor Day sales

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As Americans make plans with family and friends to celebrate the unofficial end of summer this weekend, many are including a trip to the mall knowing there are plenty of deals to be had. Labor Day has historically been a great time to score deep discounts on everything from clothing to furniture to cars. However, navigating these sales can be overwhelming and knowing where to go or what is truly a good sale can be confusing. Follow these six shopping strategies to make the most of your bargain hunting efforts this holiday weekend.

Read more: 17 easy ways to improve your finances this weekend

Know where to shop

Shopping smart and snagging the best deals during any sales event boils down to research and planning. Heading out to a store or mall on a busy holiday weekend without a strategy often results in a waste of time and money as you may end up buying things you don’t need because they’re on sale. Make a list of what you want to purchase, then find out who has the best deals on these items by reviewing store offers online. To get the inside scoop on sales ahead of time, register for a retailer’s email blast. Then map out a shopping route to make your shopping day more efficient. Having your list will help you dodge impulse purchases, too!

Know what to buy

Retailers will be offering store-wide sales across multiple categories, but not everything is as good of a deal as it may appear. When it comes to clothing, for instance, fall apparel will be on sale for 10% to 20% off, but you’ll find deeper discounts in October. Meanwhile, summer essentials will be marked down by as much as 75% off in some cases, making these the better buy. Other good deals include back-to-school supplies, patio furniture, mattresses and even new cars. Check out DealNews for a detailed list of the best items to buy during Labor Day sales so you don’t make any bad purchases.

Get a head start

Labor Day will draw large crowds of shoppers to malls and outlet centers across the country, making it a busy weekend to shop. Finding a spot to park and waiting in long checkout lines will be only half the battle though. Disorganized store shelves, messy clothing racks and picked-over merchandise will make bargain hunting tricky. Beat the rush by heading out first thing in the morning or shop before the weekend begins to get the first pick of the best discounts. Many retailers will begin posting sales well before the holiday weekend. Macy’s, for instance, released a 15% off WOW pass on Monday, August 29 valid through the weekend, while The Home Depot began rolling out Labor Day offers on appliances last week.

Check out outlet stores

When it comes to name-brand clothing and accessories, outlet centers are meccas for bargains, especially over holiday weekends when such discounters offer additional savings on top of already reduced prices. Cole Haan at Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets in New York, for example, is offering 50% off plus an additional 10% savings over Labor Day. Meanwhile, Tommy Hilfiger at the Outlets at Tejon in California is offering 40% off the entire store plus an additional 15% off your purchase with a store coupon.

Stick with sale and clearance racks

To save the most money, shop clearance racks which are typically located at the back of the store. This is where you will find the biggest bargains as retailers will offer additional discounts on these sale items. Often times, you can stack savings by applying store coupons on top of sale and clearance items. Lord & Taylor, for example, is offering 25% off clearance in-store and online. Check the retailer’s website before heading to the store for any available coupons or download a coupon app.

Think ahead to the holidays

With four months before the holidays, gift shopping may be the last thing you’re thinking about. However, Labor Day represents a good time to begin checking off your holiday shopping list. Not only are there plenty of great deals to choose from, but spreading out your purchases will reduce the financial strain you may otherwise feel in December when you’re buying multiple presents at once. Just make sure to keep track of who you shop for by using an app like Santa’s Bag so you don’t double up later. Hold onto those receipts as well in case your list changes in the coming months.

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