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The kickoff to summer sales: What to buy and avoid in May

The change of the seasons and lots of holidays mean big discounts in May, but you still may want to wait on some summer equipment

CLEVELAND — You might notice something different when you shop this month. A lot of stores are out of things, or you'll have to wait longer to get them. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the entire supply chain. But with summer fast approaching, and lots of upcoming holidays, there are still plenty of deals to cash in on in the month of May.

Kathleen Colan says she has a "never pay retail" attitude, so she's always on the hunt for sales. Which is why even though she's not a Star Wars fan, she knows all about the May the Force sales.

"Star Wars Day, May the fourth, when lots of Star Wars gear goes on sale like on Amazon or at Target. You know, apparel and video games, Star Wars themed."

But, as Andrew Gretchko of Coupon Cabin explains, you don't have to go to a galaxy far away to score on sales. 

"It's the real kickoff to summer," he said. "So because of that, you're just going to have a ton of deals."

With Mother's Day and graduation season, you'll find sales on home goods, small kitchen appliances and dishware.

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Memorial Day is known for its sales on mattresses and refrigerators. Fridges can be up to 40 percent off to make room for new models, and mattresses can be up to 60 percent off, including online.

"There are always just such incredible sales, such great ways to save and sleep is of course such an important thing," Gretchko said. "So I'm going to go with mattresses as the number one buy for the month of May." 

There are plenty of other holidays that have their own sales this month, like Cinco de Mayo, Nurses and Teachers Appreciation Week and Veterans Appreciation Day, all which come with their own associated sales.

Another good item to buy this month is jewelry, but not until after Mother's Day. That's when prices drop by as much as 70 percent, since the next peak buying time isn't until Christmas. But if mom's into clothing, spring apparel is on sale all month. Save shopping for yourself until the end of may though. That's when you'll see rock bottom prices.

"Because the spring outfits have already been on the racks for at least a month maybe even six weeks," Colan said. "So they're getting ready to load up summer." Which means don't buy bathing suits now, as much as you may want a new one.

"Those don't go on sale until June," Colan said. "And if we're thinking about any kind of small electronics, we're better to wait for a back to school sale or a Black Friday sale."

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In terms of what else to wait on, you may see some sales in May, but Gretchko says it's best to wait on grills and outdoor furniture. 

"If you don't have anything, you know, I know it's a little tough if you want something for this summer," he said. "So look for Memorial Day, there could be something, but if not, if you can wait, I would wait until after the summer." 

Other sales in May: