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The best (and worst) things to buy this August

Jeanie Ahn
Senior Producer/Reporter

As summer winds down, retailers are gearing up to compete for your dollar this back-to-school season. With traditional brick-and-mortar stores scrambling to boost sales, August is an excellent time to score deals on everything from electronics, apparel, home essentials and travel.

“The sales in August will start early as retailers wants a piece of the billions of dollars at record high levels that parents are projected to spend,” says Vera Gibbons, personal finance expert and founder of Nonpoliticalnews.com. According to the latest consumer survey by the National Retail Federation, total spending could hit a record high of $83.6 billion, an increase of 10% over last year.

Yahoo Finance invited Gibbons to share some of the sweetest deals to look out for.

Back-to-school supplies

Outside of Black Friday, this is the best time of year to buy a laptop at department stores and office supply chains because you can take advantage of student discounts and combine them with a sales tax holiday, if your state has one, says Gibbons. Strategically timing your shopping can result in significant savings on big-ticket electronic items. To find out which 16 states are participating in the “no sales tax” weekend, go to www.freetaxweekend.com.

At Apple (AAPL) this year, consumers who purchase any MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, or Mac Pro can choose from a free pair of BeatsX Earphones (valued at $149.95), Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones (valued at  $199.95), or Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones (valued at $299.95).

As expected, there will be abundant sales in August at department stores and office supply chains on school and office supplies like backpacks, notebooks, lunch boxes and other essentials.

Gibbons says stores are rolling new strategies and hooks. Walmart (WMT), for example, is increasing the number of back-to-school items that can be purchased online and picked up at one of its stores. And, for the first time, it will have back-to-school helpers who can assist shoppers on site. Target (TGT) is rolling out new deals every Sunday. J.C. Penney (JCP) will have 60% off select school uniforms. At Macy’s (M), you can get kids character backpacks (Spiderman, Emojis) for just $12.99, regularly $35.

Linens and dorm room essentials

College students in need of dorm room decor can also expect to find sales, especially on linens. “Everything from sheets to towels to comforters to bean bag chairs will be discounted in August as retailers jump on offering deals for back-to-school shopping right before fall semester,” says Gibbons.

Summer apparel                     

In August, you’ve got the big summer clearance sales of up to 70% off, so it’s the best time of year to stock up on summer clothing, swimwear, sandals, beach towels and more.

Big ticket summer items                  

Bigger-ticket items such as patio furniture, pool equipment and grills also go on sale in August. If you see yourself needing to replace any furniture or outdoor appliances for next summer, think ahead and get the shopping done now.

Travel

The period between late August and November is referred to as “shoulder season.” From August until Thanksgiving, you can book flights, hotels, and rental cars at as much as 50% off peak rates.       

What to hold off on buying

August is not the best month to buy toys and electronics like phones, tablets or TVs. For deals on these items, wait for Black Friday if you can, says Gibbons. And if you’re in the market for a new mattress, wait a few weeks for Labor Day, when it’s not uncommon to see them at 75% off.

Jeanie is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Reach out by email jeaniea@yahoo-inc.com; follow her on Twitter @jeanie531.

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