The Best and Worst Things to Buy in May

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By Louis Ramirez

From Mother's Day to Memorial Day, May is a busy month for retailers and shoppers alike. In addition to being the unofficial start of the summer, it also marks the time of year when we start spending more time outdoors, and that can lead to additional spending. But before you purchase a new grill or try on any summer apparel, you'll want to read our guide, which points out some of the best (and worst) products you can buy this month.

Peruse the advice, then consider signing up for the DealNews Select Newsletter to get the best deals of the day delivered to your inbox.

Spring Clothing Shines During Early Memorial Day Sales

Although Memorial Day isn't until May 25, you can expect retailers to kick off their Memorial Day sales as early as May 12. That's when sales made their debut last year and most likely when they'll launch again this year. And while many sales will attempt to tease you with deals on summer apparel, the best savings will actually be on spring apparel. Summer apparel is always cheaper during the months of August and September, when retailers are trying to clear the summer inventory that consumers didn't buy. That leaves spring apparel with its deepest discounts of the year. Expect to see savings of 20 to 75 percent off from retailers such as Old Navy, Nautica and Eddie Bauer, to name a few.

Bargain hunters should also keep an eye out for coupons that also apply in addition to sale prices. For instance, last year more than half of all Memorial Day clothing sales featured such "stackable" coupons. Original Penguin, for example, took 50 percent off select men's apparel and offered two additional coupons that took an extra 20 percent off and bagged free shipping. Memorial Day sales are known for their stackable discounts and it's easy to find these type of deals throughout the month. Check out the coupon center for promos from your favorite stores, and be sure to peruse our entire Memorial Day sales guide.

Save Money By Avoiding Stereotypical Mother's Day Gifts

The longer you wait to buy your Mother's Day gifts, the more you'll pay. In previous years, our deal database has shown that jewelry deals tend to increase in price at the beginning of the month, which means procrastinators will pay a premium for their gifts. Our advice? Buy your mom something that you know is heavily discounted, such as items from our list of Editors' Choice deals, which include everything from apparel to tech. (Also check out our full guide on how to save money on Mother's Day gifts.)

Upgrade Your Mattress

Our deal archives show that spring is one of the best seasons for mattress shopping, and Memorial Day will usher in new deals this month. If you're flexible on the specific type of mattress you buy, then don't settle for anything less than 50 percent off. Also look for stackable coupons, which could take 10 to 40 percent off already discounted items. Retailers to follow include Sears, JCPenney, Overstock, Macy's, and US-Mattress.

Expect to Get More Perks From Your Mobile Carrier

April was an interesting month for mobile carriers. Not only did Republic Wireless announce its new consumer-friendly payment plan which reimburses customers for unused data, but search-giant Google also launched its new wireless plan, Project Fi. The hybrid network relies on Wi-Fi connectivity to make your calls and switches to Sprint's and T-Mobile's infrastructure when Wi-Fi isn't available. Monthly plans start at $20, plus $10 for each additional gigabyte of data. Each additional gigabyte of data costs an extra $10, but users will only be charged for the data they use.

At launch, however, the plan is only available to Nexus 6 owners. And while Google claims Project Fi isn't about making money, whenever the company enters a new market, competition spikes and that's bound to be a win for consumers. So although your mobile plan may not see a dramatic decrease in price, companies such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless may give their customers extra perks, as AT&T did when T-Mobile first announced its roll-over plans.

Skip the Apple TV Purchase

Last month, Apple slashed the price of its Apple TV streamer down from $99 to $69. Since then, rumors have spread that the company will debut a new player in June at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. If you've had your eye on an Apple TV, it's likely you'll see even better deals after the newer version is released. Even if Apple doesn't launch a new Apple TV, retailers are slowly slashing the streamer's price to the point where we've now seen it for $60. Come June, that price could be even lower.

If You Need a TV, Go With a 55- or 42-inch Screen

Spring is traditionally a mediocre season for TV deals. However, if you must upgrade your TV this month, we recommend opting for a 55- or 42-inch 1080p LCD. These specific size categories are seeing the most deals at the best prices. The best deals on name-brand 55-inch 1080p LCDs, for instance, have averaged $500 since the start of the year. Additionally, you can save another $50 to $70 if you opt for an off-brand model, such as those from Insignia or Sceptre. Meanwhile, name-brand 42-inch 1080p LCDs have plateaued at $300 since fall of last year. While you could save between $30 to $50 by opting for an off-brand model, the savings aren't as significant.

Hold on the Laptop Purchases

Although you can currently get a 15-inch mainstream Intel laptop for about $380 to $400, in the coming weeks that same laptop might be 17 percent cheaper or include a free store credit. That's because late June traditionally marks the start of back-to-school sales. While it may sound absurd to start a back-to-school sale when most students are just wrapping up their semester, some retailers kick off their sales mid-to-late June. Last year, the Apple Store launched its back-to-school promotion in the last week of June, and we except it and other retailers to follow suit again this year.

So if you can push off your laptop purchase for another month or two, you'll reap cheaper prices and a wider selection of deals. Moreover, rumors indicate this summer, Microsoft will launch its new Windows 10 operating system, which could trigger special promotions from retailers like the Microsoft Store.

Ready to put this information to use? Set up an email alert or download the DealNews app in order to keep abreast of any and all of these best buys in May.

With over a decade of experience covering technology, Louis Ramirez has written for CNET, Laptop, Gizmodo and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @louisramirez.
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