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Feb. 18, 2019, 8:59 a.m. EST

What NOT to buy during Presidents’ Day weekend sales

Consumers can score big savings on appliances and furniture, but should skip the spring apparel

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By Jacob Passy


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Some bargains during Presidents’ Day are too good to be true.

With their refund checks in hand, many shopper will be looking to hit the stores during Presidents’ Day weekend.

And for good reason, said Ashley Dull, credit strategist with personal-finance website CardRates . “Presidents’ Day sales are the first big retail events of the year where the big retailers are “all-in”, and combine that with news of tax refunds, consumers getting tax refunds will be looking to upgrade big-ticket items.

Also see: More than 44% of Americans pay no federal income tax

Given that they know consumers will be eager to spend these windfalls, though, shoppers should approach some deals with caution. Here’s a round-up of what consumer should buy — and what they should avoid — this weekend.

Buy: Furniture and home goods

Presidents’ Day is famous for its mattress sales, according to Phillip Dengler, owner of deal website BestBlackFriday.com. JCPenney /zigman2/quotes/204684963/composite JCP +2.63%  and 1800mattress /zigman2/quotes/208065315/delayed DE:SNH -5.01%  have dropped prices by up to 60% this weekend, and many retailers will include free box springs and delivery on mattress purchases these next few days.

Those sales will also extend to furniture and home goods with many stores. Overstock.com /zigman2/quotes/200022359/composite OSTK -1.81% , Big Lots /zigman2/quotes/202923245/composite BIG +0.75%  and Wayfair /zigman2/quotes/201071690/composite W -0.33%  are among the many retailers offering sales on big-ticket items for your home this weekend.

Skip: Spring apparel

Typically, the best time to buy clothing is at the end of the season — meaning that right now, for spring apparel, it’s possibly the worst time to be shopping.

Buy: Winter clothing

On the flip side, now is probably one of the best times of the year to stock up on new winter coats and boots to use next year. “With spring mere weeks away, retailers are hastening to push the last of their wintry inventory out the door,” Dengler said.

Macy’s /zigman2/quotes/201854387/composite M +1.68%  and Kohl’s /zigman2/quotes/210414114/composite KSS 0.00%  have cut prices on winter apparel and outerwear by as much as 60% during this time of year. And Old Navy /zigman2/quotes/201996496/delayed DE:GAP +1.37%  is currently running a promotion called “State of the Sale,” with discounts up to 50% off most its merchandise.

Skip: Patio furniture

It’ll be a while before consumers will see competitive pricing on patio furniture, garden equipment and outdoor grills. “Outdoor products tend to see increasing demand and higher prices as warmer months approach,” Dengler said.

Buyers will want to wait to shop sales in August through October.

Buy: Appliances

This is perhaps the biggest category for sales during this holiday weekend, since retailers know that consumers will wait to replace their appliances until their tax-refund checks come in. Dengler suggested shoppers head to home improvement stores, including The Home Depot /zigman2/quotes/208081807/composite HD -0.29%  and Lowe’s /zigman2/quotes/205563664/composite LOW -1.18%  , where items from top brands such as Kenmore /zigman2/quotes/202095319/delayed SHLDQ +4.93%  and Samsung /zigman2/quotes/202367843/delayed SSNLF 0.00%  will be on sale for 30% off or more. Some retailers will also throw in free delivery and installation, like with mattresses.

Skip: Running shoes

With snow still on the ground across parts of the country, it’s certainly not the weather for outdoor running quite yet. And with January — and people’s New Year’s resolutions — long since passed, retailers don’t have as much incentive to offer deals on exercise- and sports-related gear right now.

Instead, wait until April when retailers will run deals tied to their new lines of running shoes to attract buyers’ interest, Dengler said.

Buy: Laptops and smart home technology

If you missed Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but don’t want to wait months to make a major electronics purchase, now is possibly the best time to do it. Retailers like Best Buy /zigman2/quotes/205918291/composite BBY +0.38%  will have sales over the long weekend on items such as tablets, laptops and electronic accessories. On average, consumers can expect price-cuts of 30% this holiday, according to deals website RetailMeNot.

But traditional electronics aren’t the only items being discounted.

“Consumers looking to buy into smart home technology, or upgrading to newer models, will want to pay attention to this year’s Presidents’ Day sales, as smart home items will be discounted at lower pricing from year’s past,” Dull said. Buyers should look for discounts of 20% or more when thinking of purchasing on voice-assisted and smart security products.

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Jacob Passy is a personal-finance reporter for MarketWatch and is based in New York.

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