Labor Day (Sept. 4 in 2023) is the last major three-day holiday weekend of the year and a HUGE sales event. In fact, it’ll be one of the last major sales events before the holiday season. So whether you’re shopping for early holiday gifts or just want to take advantage of the sales, Labor Day weekend (and the entire week leading up to it) is a smart time to shop.
While consumers may go into the holiday weekend with a shopping list, not everything is a smart buy. Seasonal factors still come into play, and some things are better to wait on. To help you finalize your shopping plan and make the most of your inflation-stretched dollars, we’ve got the Top 5 things to shop during Labor Day sales – and three things you should hold off on.
What to Buy During Labor Day Sales
If any of the following items are on your shopping list, Labor Day is the time to buy. And know this: many retailers start their Labor Day sales a week early (so don’t wait until Sept. 4 to start shopping).
Before shopping for anything during Labor Day weekend, check out RetailMeNot’s cash back offers. We offer 1% to 15% back across a wide variety of retailers. That’s a good chunk of change coming right back into your pocket from your Labor Day shopping – just in time to turn it around for your holiday shopping.
Grilling season comes to a close after Labor Day, and stores are eager to offload remaining grills and smokers to make way for outdoor patio heaters, Halloween decor and colder-season buys.
Expect the pickings to be slim as the weekend wears on, as retailers won’t be replacing stuff as it sells out. So start looking early. Many stores will launch their Labor Day sales a week (or more) before Labor Day.
Where to find Labor Day grill deals:
- Home improvement stores, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s.
- Hardware stores, such as ACE.
- Big-box stores like Walmart.
- Online giants like Wayfair and Amazon.
- Even your grocery store might have some grills and smokers lined up outside the entrance during Labor Day weekend.
Appliance deals and three-day weekends go hand-in-hand. Individual fridges, washers, dryers and dishwashers will get marked down. But expect even bigger discounts (up to 40% off) when you shop appliance package deals (that means buying more than one, usually from the same brand).
If you don’t quite have the funds to pay for these big-ticket items in full, retailers often offer especially generous special financing during their Labor Day sales.
Installation and hauling away of your old appliance will cost extra, so be sure to scope out the entire price before you hit “buy.”
Where to find Labor Day appliance deals:
- Home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot.
- Specialty electronics stores like Best Buy, ABT and AJMadison.
3. Mattresses and Furniture
Big-ticket home items go on sale like clockwork for three-day weekends, including Labor Day weekend.
Expect retailers that sell furniture to throw sales with the words “blow-out” in them. And expect the same from mattress retailers. Mattresses are a particularly smart Labor Day buy, as you’ll find lots of king-for-a-queen pricing, free gifts with purchase and promo codes. Plus, check out patio furniture — it’ll be on clearance, as summer is coming to an end.
Where to find Labor Day furniture and mattress deals:
- Online home goods giants, like Wayfair.
- Specialty mattress stores like Mattress Firm, Casper and Nectar.
- Specialty furniture stores like Ashley Furniture.
- Department stores like Macy’s.
Plus, check out our roundup of the best Labor Day mattress deals (we’ll be updating it as retailers announce their plans).
4. Clearance Clothing
Smart shoppers shop clothing seasonally. Even smarter shoppers shop seasonally and during three-day-weekend sales.
On Labor Day weekend, concentrate your efforts on warmer-weather clothing and on the clearance racks. Stores will be eager to clear that stuff out to make way for bulkier cold-weather fashions. You might also find some deals on fall clothing, too!
Where to find Labor Day clothing deals:
- Big-box stores like Target and Walmart.
- Department stores like Macy’s and Kohl’s (both will likely have promo codes for at least 15% off, based on past years).
- Clothing stores like Old Navy and Gap.
5. Outdoor Items
With summer camping, fishing trips and outdoor parties drawing to an end, retailers that sell outdoorsy items will be throwing end-of-season clearance sales. Expect deals on coolers, fishing equipment, camping equipment, boating equipment, kayaks, warm-weather hiking clothes, hiking boots, outdoor games and sneakers.
Outdoor retailers will be gearing people up for hunting season and the winter, so Labor Day is a great time to stock up on the warmer-weather stuff. You might even get some use out of it yet this fall.
Where to shop for Labor Day outdoor deals
- Outdoor retailers, like Cabela’s, Bass Pro and REI.
- Sporting goods stores like Academy Sports + Outdoors and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
What NOT to Buy During Labor Day Sales
While lots of items are on sale during Labor Day, some things will be even more on sale during holiday and Black Friday sales. And the good news is, you won’t have long to wait – Black Friday deals start dropping in October these days.
1. Fall Clothing
You’ll find some deals on in-season fall clothing during Labor Day sales. But bigger savings (think 50% off or more) will be plentiful once the season changes to winter. That will happen right around Black Friday, so shop then to snag the best savings on transitional fall garb, as well as on fall boots. The way this summer is going, there’s no rush to pick up the fall stuff.
2. Toys & Gaming Systems
Toys and gaming systems are holiday territory. And that’s when you’ll find some of the best savings on these giftable items (including the most desirable gaming system bundles of the year). High-demand items (think the PS5, for example) or very popular toys won’t likely drop in price, even for the holidays. But a LOT of toys will go on sale in October (when retailers start running their early holiday toy events. You’ll also find plenty of Black Friday deals on toys from Mattel, Hasbro, Hot Wheels and more popular brands.
Holiday toy deals will be announced at a fast and furious pace, so make sure you sign up for BlackFriday.com’s mailing list so you don’t miss a single thing your children put on their list.
3. Tech and TVs
You’ll find a smattering of Labor Day TV and tech deals. But it pays to wait, because Black Friday will be rife with tech deals. TVs of all sizes and brands will drop in price (in fact, TV doorbusters are some of the most anticipated deals of the year). Plus, for the entirety of November, Amazon, Walmart, Target and Best Buy will all be matching each other’s lower and lower prices on smart home gadgets, smart watches, fitness trackers, laptops and tablets. In short, if it plugs in, wait for Black Friday and holiday sales to buy it.
What Shoppers Buy During Labor Day Sales
Last year, RetailMeNot surveyed* more than 1,000 U.S. adults to get a read on their Labor Day shopping plans — 59% of those we surveyed said they planned to shop Labor Day deals, spending an average of $178. Most of that budget went toward essentials, food and clothing. That reflected the shift the retail industry has been tracking from more discretionary buys toward food and groceries, amid record inflation in 2022.
Stay tuned for this year’s Labor Day shopping stats. In the meantime, there were the categories our survey respondents said they’d be focusing on last year.
- Food & Beverage: 54%.
- Clothing: 42%.
- Home décor: 20%.
- Candy: 20%.
- Home and Garden: 20%.
- Beauty & Makeup: 19%.
- Outdoor gear: 17%.
- Electronics: 17%.
- Home Appliances: 12%.
- Flowers: 11%.
- Hotels, Flights, Travel Purchases: 9%.
*Methodology: Ziff Media Group trends survey performed by Alchemer April 28-29, 2022. N = 1,137.