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By Brad Tuttle
September 3, 2015
The beach at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
The beach at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Ron Buskirk—Alamy

The Labor Day weekend is beloved for being the last lazy hurrah of summer. But if you spend the entire weekend lounging in the backyard enjoying burgers and frosty beverages, you’ll miss out on another reason people look forward to the holiday weekend: Deals abound. Here’s what you should be shopping for if you’re searching for big discounts.

New Cars
Labor Day weekend is generally considered a good time to find a deal on new cars, what with dealerships eager to eke out a few more summer sales before colder weather returns. Another incentive dealerships have to push sales at this time of year is that they must make space for newer models, which start showing up on lots in autumn. In particular, Edmunds names the 2015 model year Honda Civic, Toyota Prius, Volkswagen Passat, and Chevy Equinox on its list of “Best New-Car Leftovers.” While the category may seem like a backhanded insult, the vehicles on the list are all solid—and they’re likely to see deep discounts this weekend, as dealerships make way for their replacement models in the months to come.

End of Summer Clearance Sales
With the end of summer comes big sales on items associated with the season, including barbecue grills, patio furniture, and all manner of warm weather apparel. Lowes, for instance, is offering up to 75% off clearance sale patio furniture. For that matter, virtually every store that sells barbecue equipment and outdoor furniture will offer dramatic discounts right now. Same goes for retailers with abundant swimwear and summer apparel, including Gap, Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Kohl’s: All seasonal merchandise will be on sale big time.

Labor Day weekend is also a great time for sales on major home appliances at Home Depot, Sears, and Best Buy, among others.

Back to School
Don’t tell your kids this—especially not at the start of a new school year—but there are benefits to procrastinating. Specifically, parents who put off back-to-school shopping until around Labor Day get to benefit from extra deep discounts from retailers who need to unload the leftover pencils, notebooks, and whatnot that are still clogging store aisles. The usual suspects like Staples, Office Depot, and Walmart are all offering back-to-school deals, though to get the truly best prices, it’s probably smartest to shop in store—specifically, in clearance sections—rather than online.

Look for the trend toward cheaper flights to pick up steam in the near future. Newly released data indicates that airfare will be 9% cheaper this fall, compared to the year before. While it may be too late to take advantage of Labor Day flight deals—which were down 14% if reserved a few weeks before the holiday—right now is a terrific time to book airfare departing later in the fall. Frontier Airlines is selling flights from Detroit to Orlando starting at $39, while JetBlue is offering 50% off airfare and hotel packages for the period in between Labor Day and the peak winter holidays. In some cases, it’s still possible to find great deals on hotels for the holiday weekend—in south Florida, for instance. But considering that pretty much every destination outside of foliage-crazed New England is approaching a slow travel season, you’ll save a ton of money by postponing your trip and hitting the road in a few weeks.

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