Travel, gift cards go on sale this month

Graduations, Memorial Day and warm weather all drive the best discounts in May.

Gift cards: These common gifts for high school or college graduates sometimes go on sale this time of year — say, $40 for a $50 card. “The retailers will be pushing the gift cards because they know it’s an easy gift,” consumer site FatWallet spokesman Brent Shelton said.

Travel: Higher prices will kick in starting in June, so book an impromptu getaway now to score the best deals until autumn, Shelton says. “There’s a pretty wide variety of deals. You’ve got to do a little bit of shopping to find them,” he said. Peruse package deals that include airfare, hotel accommodations and a rental car.

Gym fees: When the weather warms up, exercise facilities sometimes offer incentives to persuade you to work out inside. “You’re in a better position to haggle for some sort of cut,” said Lindsay Sakraida, features director at DealNews. “A lot of them will run outright promotions. Like maybe they won’t charge you a registration or initiation fee. Or they’ll cut the first few months of membership fees.”

Sporting goods: Other forces, however, are trying to push you outdoors. “Baseball, softball season are kicking in,” Shelton said, with retailers offering more discounts. “The ones that are more niche will feature certain brands. The ones that are big box — like Dick’s [Sporting Goods] — they’ll have bigger power sales because they can.”

Mattresses: Stores including Sears are known for taking up to 60 percent off during Memorial Day weekend. “Over the summer, a lot of mattress manufacturers start sending out new products to retailers,” Sakraida said. “And mattresses are quite big, so if they have any leftover stock, they really want to get rid of it.”

Also look for: refrigerators, fully equipped laptops, ultrabooks, spring apparel clearance and home goods sales. Look for hiking, camping and fishing gear from stores including REI, Gander Mountain, Altrec.com and Eastern Mountain Sports.

Wait to buy

3-DTVs: Prices for these models keep sinking and are expected to dip lower this year. Westinghouse Digital is releasing a new 3-DTV during the summer, and it’s expected to drive down prices from more expensive competitors.

“Once that happens, we expect the market to shift around and become even more affordable for people,” Sakraida said. “Even though now is a good time to start looking into 3-D because it is so cheap, it’ll probably get even cheaper over the summer.”

Smaller 3-DTVs are also materializing in a market that has been dominated by 55-inchers, Sakraida says, creating less expensive options for consumers.

Worst things to buy

Jewelry: Consider alternatives for Mother’s Day, as prices traditionally rise in May.

Outdoor grills: You’ll see better deals in June, and the best prices after Independence Day.

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter


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