Columbus Day has enough clout among retailers to warrant sales, but stores aren't giving all that much away for the occasion.
October sales have increased from September's totals during eight of the last ten years, but Columbus Day can't take much credit. The October bump has only failed to materialize during the recession in 2008 and during a particularly brutal third quarter of 2015. But it's that third quarter that retailers want to emphasize, especially as they push winter holiday sales further into October.
Halloween candy, costume and party sales are fine and all, and retailers won't scoff at whatever sales Columbus Day manages to bring in. But with 41% of consumers telling the National Retail Federation that they start their holiday shopping before November, October is now firmly within the holiday shopping season. In fact, retailers including Target (TGT - Get Report) and Walmart (WMT - Get Report) have holiday return policies that cover items purchased in September, with Toys R Us honoring returns on holiday purchases made after September 1 (though not on electronic hardware). TJ Maxx (TJX - Get Report) , Marshalls and HomeGoods will be honoring returns on holiday purchases made on or after October 15, according to a spokeswoman.
The winter holidays aren't just coming: For retailers who want to bolster a slow third quarter with a vibrant fourth, they're already here. It's why retailers clear floor space in mid-September and club retailers like Costco (COST) and BJ's moving holiday items onto the floor around the same time. Meanwhile, last year, the first Columbus Day sales showed up on October 3 and were basically done the day after Columbus day, as most retailers already start preparing for Black Friday. Even worse, only 3% of the best deals found on Columbus Day aren't from full-fledged sales, but from seemingly random discounts on single items.
If you can't wait for Black Friday and have items you actually need, the folks at DealMews have a few Columbus Day suggestions for you. However, if you're looking for an excuse to start holiday shopping early, keep an eye out for the following:
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DealNews says clothes make up 20% of the deals found on Columbus Day, but it doesn't mean they're particularly great. If you aren't looking for fall items specifically or don't have an event coming up, lay off of clothing until Black Friday. Columbus Day apparel deals can't hang with November sales.
Check out some of Amazon's clothing deals.
Shoes are another story entirely. There aren't a whole lot of shoe deals out there at this time of year, but those that do surface are incredible. Last year Sperry took up to 70% off its final clearance items, and Sorel offered free shipping sitewide with no minimum purchase required. This was the first free shipping offer DealNews had seen from Sorel, and it also stacked with sale items that were already almost 50% off. Naturalizer, meanwhile, took an extra 30% off via a coupon, which also qualified orders for free shipping. Just make sure to read the fine print. Last year, Shoes.com took 75% off shoes and added a coupon code to take an extra 30% off -- with free shipping on all orders. However, Shoes.com leaves a lot of brands out of the mix when it has sales, so pay attention.
Check out some of Amazon's shoe deals.
Home and garden items
Want to buy a grill and patio furniture? NO!!! You are way too late, and shame on you for asking. Go sit under the fake Christmas trees and Minions inflatables and bow your head in shame. For those of you who are more serious about your time in the home and garden superstore of your choice, DealNews wants you to know that 10% of last year's best Columbus Day deals involved home and garden items. If you were a Sears rewards member in 2016 -- and bravo for hanging onto that wheezing, terminal retail chain for this long -- you could get 100% back on select Craftsman Bolt-on accessories. Meanwhile, Home Depot cut up to 35% off vanities, as Flor offered an extra 25% off sitewide. Sears, also took up to 60% off mattresses and 40% off kitchen appliances -- though the appliance sale held its best deals until October 12.
This seems counterintuitive, considering that no one questions Black Friday's dominance in electronics deals. However, as we said earlier, it pays to be specific. Canon discounts select refurbished cameras and lenses around this time of year, taking $100 off select models in 2016. For those holding off on a 4K television, don't. DealNews notes that a variety of sizes will be available at 43" and up, and that Dell Home will be offering bundles including gift cards that could go as high as $400.
Check out some of Amazon's TV deals.