What to Buy In May—Plus What You Should Probably Skip

Your dollars with stretch more if you wait until Memorial Day weekend to buy that new patio set.
For bargain hunters, Memorial Day isn't just about fun picnics.
For bargain hunters, Memorial Day isn't just about fun picnics. / kali9, E+ Collection, Getty Images
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May is one of the best times of the year to hunt for bargains: March and April tend to be slow in terms of sales tentpoles, but between post-Mother’s Day deals and massive Memorial Day sales, May comes bursting onto the scene in a big way. Savvy shoppers can stock up on all kinds of household, pet, and beauty essentials that might otherwise be beyond their budgets. Below are some of the best things to buy in May, plus a couple things you should probably postpone until June or later in the summertime.

Buy: Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor table set up.
It might be peak patio season, but May is actually a good time to invest in a set. / franckreporter, E+ Collection, Getty Images

Most of the time, buying seasonal products right when they come out is a bad idea because you’ll end up paying the full sticker price. (And who wants that?) There are a few limited exceptions to this cardinal rule for budget shoppers, and picking up patio furniture during Memorial Day weekend is definitely one of them.

While it’s not as big of an event in the world of shopping as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Memorial Day is one of those tentpoles where you can find some very impressive bargains, especially on high-ticket items. Last month, we encouraged readers to hold off on buying grills until early fall (a.k.a., when the season is over) unless they were doing it as part of a Memorial Day sale, and the same advice holds true for outdoor furniture.

During the Lowe’s Memorial Day sale—which is expected to land sometime in mid-May—shoppers will likely be able to save upwards of 50 percent on select patio chairs, porch swings, and outdoor dining sets, among other things, if we go by the discounts in years past. And because Wayfair’s Way Day didn’t actually end up happening in April (bummer!), it means you may not even have to wait until the end of May to save on some good patio accessories. Way Day is officially slated to start on Saturday, May 4 and run through Tuesday, May 7, and there are already some decent outdoor rugs, chair sets, and deck boxes on clearance that you could check out in case you want to get a jumpstart on things.

Buy: Pet Supplies

Woman kissing cute cat's head
It's National Pet Month, too. / Rafael Elias, Moment Collection, Getty Images

It can be expensive being a pet parent, and this is especially true if your four-legged companion has special dietary needs or other accommodations you need to keep in mind. Fortunately, Amazon Pet Day 2024 is right around the corner, and during this sale—which runs during part of National Pet Week and begins on Tuesday, May 7—shoppers can scoop up the best deals from leading brands like Purina, Merrick, Blue Buffalo, and Furbo. You can expect to save up to 60 percent on everything from toys to pet food, pet cameras, and accessories. Not only that, but the event (which wraps up on Wednesday, May 8) is open to all, not just Prime members.

Buy: Star Wars Merchandise

LEGO Star Wars TIE-Interceptor on shelf is seen.
This TIE-Interceptor comes with a few extra perks at LEGO. / LEGO

Given that Saturday, May 4 is Star Wars Day, expect to see a lot of themed merch kicking around stores over the coming days. While we usually encourage readers to avoid shopping during these holidays because you’ll pay an arm and a leg for everything, that isn’t always the case with this one.

Amazon has a history of offering some solid Star Wars Day deals, and not just on toys, movies, and apparel. In 2023, Amazon devices with Star Wars themes were marked down to $10 and up, and as it stands, you could already snag this Echo Dot bundle for nearly 25 percent off (although we do recommend waiting at this point). LEGO is also hosting an event in honor of the big day, with a mixture of both new releases (like this sick TIE Interceptor, first available via early access to LEGO Insiders) and free gifts with select purchases.

Buy: Haircare Essentials

Woman brushing her curly hairstyle in studio on a gray background.
There are two big haircare-related sales going on in May that are worth checking out. / Delmaine Donson, E+ Collection, Getty Images

Shopping for high-end haircare products from brands like Olaplex and Living Proof can set your budget way back, and that’s why these two big sales happening over at Sephora and Ulta Beauty in May couldn’t have come at a better time.

During Sephora’s Oh Hair Yeah! event that started on Tuesday, April 30, folks can save up to 50 percent off on essentials from Bumble and Bumble, BondiBoost, ghd, and more. New discounts drop daily so you should probably bookmark the landing page through to Saturday, May 11, when the sale is set to wrap up. The timing is pretty convenient, as the Ulta Gorgeous Hair sale should commence shortly thereafter and offer comparable deals on shampoos, conditioners, styling creams, hair styling tools, and other must-haves. If you plan ahead, you might be able to get everything you need for the rest of the year at a fraction of the usual price.

Buy: Candles

Close-up of colorful scented candles.
You don't need to wait until fall to grab all your favorite scents. / knape, E+ Collection, Getty Images

Even though the coziest time of the year has passed and you’re probably itching to get outdoors, the month of May can be a great period to stock up on candles that will make your home smell even more inviting. Yankee Candle typically hosts a big Semi-Annual sale around Memorial Day weekend, and while we don’t know exactly when the event will kick off yet, it usually gets underway right as the month is winding down and runs into June.

Similar to the Semi-Annual sale that Yankee Candle always hosts every January, shoppers can expect to save up to 75 percent on everything from large jar candles to car vent clips, wax melts, and more. You can even opt to grab summer- and fall-themed scents so that whatever is in your haul can last you a couple seasons.

Skip: Bras and Lingerie

Red bras in front of a shop in a shopping street.
You'll save more if you hold off until June. / fhm, Moment Collection, Getty Images

Outside of February, there really isn’t a "hot" season to buy bras and other types of lingerie. But there is a good time of year to buy in bulk, and it’s usually around the month of June because that’s when Victoria’s Secret does their own Semi-Annual sale. In years past, the retailer has offered deals of up to 80 percent off on bras, undies, sweats, and even swimwear, and we expect this time around will be no different. While the official dates for the event haven’t been released yet, it will likely happen around the first week of June, so it would be wise to hold off on making any big purchases in this area until then.

Skip: Laptops

Woman shops for a new laptop.
When it comes to laptop shopping, back-to-school season will yield better discounts than graduation season. / 97, E+ Collection, Getty Images

May isn’t just about Mother’s Day, Memorial Day weekend, or scooping up lots of Star Wars swag. It’s also that time of year where kids start graduating, and though that season can last through to the middle of June, people tend to to start thinking about graduation gifts right about now. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find bargains on school-related gear, particularly when it comes to laptops. Even if you aren’t a student, you may want to wait a few months until around July when back-to-school essentials begin to dominate the display stands for most brick-and-mortar retailers. You’ll likely find the best laptop deals and tech-related bargains if you wait until the fall.

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