If you've been feeling the stress of increasing prices over the last few months, you're not the only one. Inflation is still on the rise, and the latest Consumer Price Index — which measures average prices for a range of goods — rose by 6.4 percent over the past year, putting a strain on shoppers' budgets.
That's why we, as consumers, now, more than ever, appreciate a good deal. But, this year, you might not be seeing quite as many sales as you've become accustomed to.
"Last year, retailers still had a ton of inventory to move through," Kristen Gall, a retail expert for the shopping platform, Rakuten tells Shop TODAY. "So you saw a lot of really aggressive promotional activity last year, throughout the year and all through Q4. Retailers are not in a bad inventory position now. Things are kind of returning to normal after a lot of really tumultuous years in retail, where they didn't have enough and then they had too much. Now, they've all been really conservative about their inventory levels, which doesn't actually mean great news for the consumer."
So how should consumers navigate this changing retail landscape while still finding a good deal? "They're going to have to look for deals in a way that I think they haven't had to over the last year or two," Gall says. Also, it means that those big sales days, when you can find discounts on items across the board (think: Amazon Prime Day, Memorial Day, etc.), will be your best friend.
Of course, not everyone has the time to dig for deals on the regular. That's why we asked Gall along with Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst for DealNews, about the shopping holidays, deals and events you should be looking out for each month of the upcoming season. Now, whether you're hoping to score some summer essentials or are looking for the must-haves to help you tackle spring cleaning this year, here's when you can get them for a discount.
Best items to buy in March
Spring officially kicks off on March 20, and while there aren't any major shopping holidays this month, there are still some great opportunities to save. Here's what you can expect to find on sale:
- Winter clothing: If you're shopping for items that will carry you through the rest of the cold days of the season or hoping to stock up on clothes for next winter, both experts say this is the time to do it. "We see a lot of discounts on winter clothing in March, but it's particularly good for buying coats," Ramhold says. You'll find steep markdowns on everything from fleece to puffers and parkas. "It's also going to be a good time to look for boots, too," she adds. Retailers like Target, Kohl's and Macy's are good places to look for these types of deals.
- Winter sporting goods: Going skiing over spring break? Or need a new boarding helmet? Both experts say that this is a good time to grab those essentials.
- Fitness equipment: "Come January, you have a lot of 'new year, new you' sales that happen on fitness equipment, athleisure, all of the things geared towards your New Year's resolutions," Gall says. "Retailers, if they didn't move that stuff during that time, they typically put it on sale in March. So March is a great time for fitness equipment, treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, all of the apparel that goes with it."
- St. Patrick's Day items: If green happens to be your favorite color, you're in luck. In the past, stores like Petco and Kohl's have offered discounts on festive gear for the holiday, Ramhold says.
- Vacuums: "[March] actually can be a surprisingly good time to pick up a vacuum cleaner, especially if you like Dyson models," Ramhold says. "And if you're not opposed to refurbished, then shopping certified refurbished Dyson on eBay is especially good. Last year, we saw discounts at one point of up to 66% off."
Best items to buy in April
Prepare yourself for spring blooms, occasional showers and some good deals! Here's what to shop this month:
- Spring fashion: Retailers will start to trickle in their spring inventory in March, but April is when it really hits. "What retailers are trying to do is move that inventory at the highest margin possible," Gall says. "They want you to buy it at full price, but realistically, you're not necessarily going to do that. So what they do in April is offer a lot of friends and family sales ... because look at the math — if they can move a sweater at 20% off, they're gonna do better than if they don't sell it and sell it later at 70% off." You can expect both luxury retailers and department stores to host these kinds of sales.
- Gardening items: If you've been thinking about putting your green thumb to the test, now is the time to do it. You can typically find seeds, plant food, gardening accessories and even sometimes plant on sale during this month, Ramhold says.
- Sustainable products: Earth Day is on April 22, and Ramhold says you may see modest discounts — like up to 20 or 30% off — from sustainable brands.
Best items to buy in May
Unsurprisingly, when searching for deals in the spring, May is one of the best times to shop, thanks to Memorial Day (which is on May 23 this year). Here's what to look out for:
- Summer clothing: During Memorial Day weekend, Gall says you can typically find sitewide sales of 20% off (or more), so it's a good opportunity to get those must-have items for a discount. You'll also be able to find heavier discounts on spring apparel, which most of the time works for the upcoming season, too.
- Big-ticket items: Memorial Day sales typically bring solid discounts on larger items like appliances and some electronics, Ramhold says. While it's not the best time to buy a TV, you can still find decent deals on those, too.
- Backyard essentials: The holiday weekend is also a good time to buy outdoor furniture and grills, Gall says. While there are plenty of deals on furniture as a whole during this time, there's a focus on outdoor furniture and summer entertaining essentials.
- Mattresses: There's a pretty big lull in mattress sales between Memorial Day and Presidents Day, so if you didn't take advantage of the deals during the winter holiday weekend, this is your time to do so. Individual mattress companies, like Casper and Purple, will typically host sales, as well as big-box stores like Macy's, where you can sometimes find discounts of up to 70%, Ramhold says.
Best items to buy in June
June marks the end of spring and the official kickoff to summer, and it tends to be a slow sales month. But here's what you can expect:
- Spring clothing: "It's probably going to be the last chance to pick up cheap spring clothing," Ramhold says. You can expect to find discounts on things like tees and shorts.
- Father's Day gifts: This time of year, Ramhold says, is when we typically see select stores offering discounts on grills and barbecue accessories that are perfect for Father's Day gifting.
- PC games: Calling all gamers! Ramhold says that sites like Steam and GOG tend to host big sales on games in June, so it can be a good time to score discounts.
Best deals to shop right now
Now that you have your plan for spring shopping, if you're ready to hop on the deals, we're sharing some of the best ones that you can shop ahead of the season, below.
Cleverfy Shower Steamers (Set of 6)
Amazon's Presidents Day sale brought plenty of deals on everything from tech to beauty essentials — and the deals are still going strong! You can score nearly 40% off these popular shower steamers, which promise to turn your rinses into a home spa experience.
TruSkin Vitamin C Serum
Don't miss your chance to grab this bestselling serum for a discount! Made to be used on the face and around the eyes, it's said to even skin tone, reduce dark spots and even improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Wild Fable Racerback One-Piece Swimsuit
Target is already helping you prep for spring with discounts on everything from fashion to cleaning and organizing essentials. You can snag this one-piece to wear on your next vacation for 30% off. It has a cool, sporty design and removable cups for a customized fit.
Brightroom Square Swivel Bamboo Organizer
Keep your beauty essentials or jewelry organized with this chic countertop storage solution. It has two storage compartments and a swivel design, making it easy to see all the contents at once.
Shark Navigator Lift-Away XL Multisurface Vacuum
More than a thousand items are marked down right now during Walmart's Spring Into Savings event, including this vacuum. While it's normally nearly $200, you can get it right now for $97. It features an extendable hose that you can use to clean hard-to-reach spots or areas above the floor. Plus, it allows you to switch between deep cleaning your carpets to gently sucking up dirt from your floors with the push of a button.
Beautiful 6-Quart Touchscreen Air Fryer
You can also score this "beautiful" air fryer from Drew Barrymore's popular kitchenware brand for just under $70. It's designed to allow you to air fry, roast, reheat or even dehydrate your favorite foods — and it's said to preheat 50 percent faster than your standard oven. While we love all the impressive features, we're equally obsessed with the sleek and stylish design.
Croft & Barrow Quilted Jacket
Kohl's is offering discounts of up to 80% off right now. So you can grab this cute jacket for just $15 — yes, really! It has a trendy quilted design and comes in four colors (all of which are on sale).
Altavida Cooling Weighted Blanket (12 Pounds)
There's a good reason why you've heard so many people raving about weighted blankets. Experts say that they can help relieve anxiety and promote relaxation. And if you're hoping to experience the benefits for yourself, you can grab this option for more than $100 off at Kohl's.
Madewell Stripe-Play Mockneck Pullover Sweater
Madewell is currently having a sale on sale styles, so you can score an extra 20% off already discounted items. We love the classic feel of this sweater. The brand says that it's perfect for pairing with high-waisted bottoms and tall boots, and we'd agree.
J.Crew Cotton Voile Tunic Cover-Up
J.Crew is a great place to find fashion essentials for any season. And if you're looking ahead to the warmer weather, you'll appreciate the fact the brand is currently marking down swim and sun-ready styles by up to 50% off. If you're headed to the beach, you'll want to have this coverup on your packing list. It's colorful, breezy and chic, so it's just what your vacation wardrobe needs.
J.Crew Classic-Fit Soft Gauze Shirt
Use the code GOSHOP to get 25% off this bestselling button-down shirt. The brand calls it the ultimate "everyday" shirt, with a roomy fit and a just-right length.
Old Navy High-Waisted Cropped Wide-Leg Chino Pants
From the office to picnics at the park, these pants are perfect for nearly every occasion. And you can get them for an extra 20% off when you use the code SWEET at checkout.
Old Navy Short-Sleeve Luxe V-Neck T-Shirt
Your new favorite basic tee is stretchy, comfortable, versatile — and just $12 right now.
Heath & Cliff Sivil Console Table
Overstock's Presidents Day Clearance event isn't over yet! You can still save up to 70% off thousands of items, from furniture to mattresses. We suggest grabbing this console table while it's on sale. Available in multiple stylish finishes, it's the perfect way to upgrade your space.