NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Here come the eye-popping Labor Day weekend deals as retailers such as Macy's (M - Get Report) and J.C. Penney (JCP - Get Report) look to clear out space for fuzzy fall sweaters and down jackets.
And this year, there may be more deals for consumers to peruse through on the racks as retailers try to reinvigorate their stagnant sales ahead of Christmas.
Retail sales at department stores have fallen about 2% this year, according to July data from the Census Bureau. That represents the second-worst sales performance on an unadjusted basis behind the 19.7% plunge at gas stations, due primarily to the decline in gas prices. In July, sales at department stores fell 0.7%, following a 0.3% drop in June.
July retail sales more broadly rose a modest 0.6%. Mixed retail sales results come in spite of an improving U.S. labor market, which on average has created a solid 221,000 jobs in the past three months alone.
One possible culprit for cautious consumer spending: virtually non-existent wage growth. As think-tank Economic Policy Institute points out, nominal wage growth in America has pretty much gone nowhere since 2010. "It will take wage growth of at least 3.5% to 4% for workers to begin to reap the benefits of economic growth -- and to achieve a genuine recovery from the Great Recession," says the ECI.
With gloom and doom swirling around Wall Street, TheStreet takes a look at three categories that penny-pinching consumers should consider shopping for the best deals this Labor Day weekend.
Labor Day weekend has traditionally been the time to shop for washing machines, refrigerators and other big-ticket household appliances. The reason is that retailers want to move merchandise prior to the onset of winter, when home remodeling projects stall due to cold weather conditions.
This weekend is shaping up to be no different than years past for the appliance category. Best Buy (BBY - Get Report) is offering up to 30% off major appliances. Some of the best deals from Best Buy are in higher-end refrigerators from Samsung and LG, where savings can reach $800 off list prices.
Similar to the rationale behind slashing prices on appliances, retailers view Labor Day weekend as a great time to sell expensive furniture pieces prior to the arrival of winter.
Macy's is always a top destination on Labor Day weekend for large-ticket furniture such as couches and tables given its willingness to discount. This year, the company is holding its lowest furniture prices of the season sale. The best deals in the furniture category are in couches, where many items are being marked down 50%.
Macy's rival J.C. Penney is not sitting back, as it's currently advertising 50% to 70% off most sofa styles.
3. Star Wars-related products
Thanks to Disney's (DIS - Get Report) all-out marketing blitz around the launch of new Star Wars: Force Awakens toys on Friday, the interest in products related to the franchise will likely be strong during Labor Day weekend. And the major retailers are prepared to meet their customers' demands for all things Luke Skywalker.
J.C. Penney is prominently featuring Star Wars clothing for kids on its homepage, with some styles going for 50% off. Select Star Wars bedding at J.C. Penney is 60% off, as is the storm trooper pillow pictured above.