July isn't filled with retail fireworks, but there are still deals to be found if you know where to look.
This is generally a mediocre retail month that relies heavily on July 4th sales just to keep pace with the rest of the summer. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, when you remove vehicle and auto parts sales from the mix, July's retail sales don't look all that different from June or August. Retailers know you have few excuses not to be out and about, and they aren't going out of their way to further entice you into air-conditioned stores.
Even wtih road trips, fireworks and a federal holiday, July's at a tough spot on the retail calendar. In the last 20 years, July has only been the best summer sales month four times: 2002, 2007, 2008 and 2013. It isn't April's spring awakening, and it doesn't have August or September's back-to-school spending. Yet it isn't the frigid wasteland of February, either. July just requires a little work on the part of summer shoppers.
With peak back-to-school shopping season still about a month away, the key deals aren't obvious. There's a whole lot of foot traffic out there, but everyone's too preoccupied with the vacations at hand to plan ahead properly. With help from the folks at DealNews and LifeHacker.com, we've come up with some tips on where to bask in some climate-controlled retail spaces and reap the rewards.
While July 4th sales can start in mid-June and run through mid-July, note that some retailers hack prices here after the Independence Day holiday to clear stock. Last year, Macy's (M - Get Report) presented discounts of up to 70% on July 8, while Columbia's (COLM - Get Report) discounts hit 60% by mid-July.
Editor's Pick: This article was originally published on July 5, 2017.
DealNews found that, last year, July had 40% more big clothing sales than June. Thank ongoing July 4th sales, which should take at least 50% off at most stores. If you can let that heavy denim and khaki sit until fall, Dockers and Levi's held significant sales last year -- with jeans available for just $10.
July is the halfway point for summer clothing season, with the Gap (GPS - Get Report) , Banana Republic, J. Crew, Kate Spade (KATE) and more starting to clear their inventory before fall and back-to-school stock arrives. That means shorts and dresses from $14 at most stores, and deeper discounts for retailers who've been publicly struggling in recent weeks.
Amazon Prime Day (July 11)
The problem with Amazon's (AMZN - Get Report) retail holiday is that it's loaded down with absolute garbage. It was true during the first Prime Day in 2015, and it was still true last year despite Amazon's inventory tweaks. Sales on krill oil pills, furniture-moving slings and a $1,000, 55-gallon barrel of lube don't inspire shoppers to do much other than giggle.
Yet, Amazon says that 2016 Prime Day increased sales by 60% and was Amazon's biggest day ever. DealNews recommended 42% of Amazon's deals last year, with tech getting most of the best pricing. Some of the most popular deals included Amazon Warehouse open box and used items for up to 20% off, a 7-inch Amazon Fire tablet for $33 and a Segway miniPRO Self Balancing Transporter for $699 (a low by $300). If you were going after Amazon-branded products, however, the Fire tablet, Echo, and Fire TV Stick saw some of the deepest discounts of the day.
According to the American Home Furnishings Alliance, August is when all of the new furniture starts showing up in stores. That means furniture retailers spend much of July trying to clear the decks with sales in an effort to move last year's stock.
Granted, this doesn't apply to everything. Couches, loveseats, tables, dressers, bed frames and chairs get the deepest discounts. Mattress clearance season is in May, while the best deals on office furniture tend to wait until August.
Retailers know you wilt like a delicate flower in the heat. That's why they're dropping the price of paint that otherwise collects dust on shelves while you wait for more ideal temperatures. Last year during July, DealNews saw a "buy one, get one" sale on select paints at Lowe's, and 40% off at participating Sherwin-Williams (SHW - Get Report) retailers. That paint won't expire either. It can last for ten years unopened, so feel free to wait for fall.
With the first students headed back to school in August, retailers know this is their last opportunity to push outdoor apparel and gear.
In recent years, Jenson USA has offered up to 90% off bikes, biking gear and apparel; however, you're more likely to see discounts of around 50% off at stores like Columbia, Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS - Get Report) , Bass Pro Shops, Backcountry, and Gander Mountain. Meanwhile, Cabela's has offered up to 60% off throughout the store, significant price reductions on camping and fishing equipment.
Yes, you can still book a summer vacation in mid-summer, if you're willing to sweat it out a bit.
In New York City, hotel prices are $60 cheaper per night in July than in August. You'll be out in the elements for concerts, theater in the park, markets and other activities, but you'll have the city largely to yourself as New Yorkers flee to more beachy environs for the weekend. If New York isn't your style, travel app Hopper says fares to desert-bound Las Vegas are actually cheapest just 14 days out from your travel date. Yes, you'll be going to one of the hottest places in the country, but all the better for pool parties and long strolls on the casino floor.
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