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May 01, 2020
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The month of May is typically a great time to shop and save on lots of necessities. Thanks to Memorial Day, we traditionally see numerous sales, especially on mattresses, grills, appliances, and tech devices such as smartwatches and Bluetooth speakers. It’s also often an opportunity to score a deal on a new stroller, bike helmet, insect repellent, and sunscreen for the summer months ahead.

However, this May is shaping up to be unlike previous years. And as we continue to observe social distancing requirements, there’s a very good chance that Memorial Day sales will be primarily online affairs, and certain items are increasingly difficult to find, let alone at a discount. Take freezers, for example. They typically go on sale this month, but thanks to an increased demand for additional home food storage, it’s hard to find them at all right now. Air conditioners may go the same route as well.

Consumer Reports has been tracking the products we test for years, noting the prices at multiple retailers throughout the year to determine when they typically fall the furthest. While we cannot guarantee this trend will hold true this month, you may be able to find a deal on these items this month.

We’ll be updating this post all month as new deals become available on products we’ve tested, so check back weekly if you’re in the market for anything listed below.

Want to know what’s on deep discount the rest of the year? See our calendar of deals.

Mattresses
May is a fantastic time to shop for a new mattress. Thanks largely to Memorial Day sales, you can typically find big discounts throughout the month. Mattress companies often start running their holiday promotions early in the month, but if you hold out until closer to the holiday, they may sweeten their offers with a larger discount or free add-ons, such as pillows or sheets, or discounts on bed frames. This can also be a good month to get a new air mattress at a discount, if you’re in the market.

There’s a lot to consider when buying a new mattress, and it’ll depend largely on your body type and sleeping habits. Some mattresses use organic materials, some incorporate coils and memory foam, and some have special materials like cooling gels. And mattresses can range in price from a few hundred dollars to well over $1,000, so your budget will affect your choices as well.

You can find out more about mattress options by reading CR’s buying guide and reviewing our mattress ratings. A good mattress should last you eight to 10 years, so do the research and invest in one that will suit your sleeping style for years to come.

Grills
May is the true start of grilling season, whether you wait for Memorial Day or crank up the heat on the first nice day of the month. Especially now, when we’re all looking for more reasons to spend time outside, you’ll be glad to know this month typically brings discounts on gas and charcoal grills alike.

Prices can range from as little as $100 to more than $3,000, depending on what you want. CR tests grills to fit every cooking style and budget, from portable models you can take camping to larger grills designed to feed an extended family. We produce ratings of more than 150 grills to suit everyone from the first-time buyer to the seasoned grill master searching for a replacement or an upgrade.

There are three main types of grills to choose from, and each has pros and cons when it comes to cost, ease of use, cleanup, and, most important, how it cooks your food. So you’ll want to review our grill buying guides if you’re not sure whether you’d be happiest with a charcoal grill, gas grill, or pellet grill.

Air Conditioners
If you’re proactive about your summer purchases, you may be able to find an air conditioner on sale in May, well before the summer heat sets in. This can be chalked up to retailers trying to move old inventory to make room for the new. However, with everyone stuck at home right now and no certainty as to when that will change, people are already buying them up and inventory may be too limited for retailers to discount anything. So it might be difficult to find air conditioners online at all, let alone on sale. What this means is that if you find a model you like, especially at a discounted price, you ought to snatch it up quickly or you may risk it going out of stock.

You can choose a window unit or a portable AC, and it may have features such as WiFi connectivity and a companion app. CR has tested and rated 50 models, so be sure to check out our buying guide and recommendations to find the right option for your home.

Bike Helmets
Going for a bike ride is a great way to get out of the house while still staying socially distant from your neighbors. You and your family should be safe when you ride, so you’ll need trustworthy bike helmets, especially if it has been a while since you bought the ones you have.

A proper helmet can dramatically reduce the risk of injury if you’re in a crash, and CR has tested 48 models for adults and children to help you find the best, safest options for you and your family. It’s recommended that you replace your helmet at least every five years, or immediately if you’re involved in a crash, even if you can’t see damage. And May is often a good time to get one for less than usual.

Especially because bike helmets are designed to keep you safe, we recommend reading our buying guide so that you know exactly what to look for when you start shopping. Then check out the ratings on bike helmets we’ve tested to find something reliable and safe that fits your needs.

Insect Repellents and Sunscreens
May is when the days grow noticeably longer, when bugs start to appear in droves, and when we spend more time outside. So you’ll be happy to learn that there are often deals and sales on insect repellent and sunscreen this month. Even if you’re not heading to a crowded beach or embarking on a family camping trip, you’ll still want to have these on hand for spending time in your backyard.

With so many brands and types to choose from, buying the right products can feel a little intimidating. Check out our buying guides for insect repellent and sunscreen to get a better idea of what to look for when you shop.

Dishwashers
Spending more time at home means cleaning more dishes every day. For those of us lucky enough to have a dishwasher, it helps a lot, but more wear and tear, especially if you’re loading in more dishes than usual for a single wash, may mean it’s not performing as well. And when your dishwasher isn’t cleaning as well or as quickly, it can lead to feelings of frustration. If your dishwasher just isn’t cutting it anymore, May could be a great time to invest in a replacement that will help keep your home tidier and your housemates happier. Expect to see more discounts from more retailers the closer we get to Memorial Day.

Keep in mind that if you are in the market to replace an appliance, the entire process is going to be affected by the pandemic. From delivery and pickup options to scheduling installation, you’ll need to take even more into consideration than usual before you buy. Start your search by reviewing CR’s buying guide to determine the best machine for your home.

Ranges
You may also find decent sales on ranges this month, again thanks to Memorial Day appliance discounts and deals toward the end of the month. If you’re replacing your existing range, you will probably need to stick with a similar make and model right now because it’ll mean less installation hassle. Switching from electric to gas or vice versa requires more prep work and a more intensive installation and removal process. Even if you find a good deal this month, a new range may be a purchase to consider putting off unless absolutely necessary.

To learn more about the different kinds of ranges, read CR’s buying guide, which will help you determine which options will work in your kitchen.

Blenders
In the market for a new blender? CR’s data has shown that many models tend to have price drops in May, which means you might be able to get a better blender while staying within your budget. Blenders can cost anywhere from $30 to well over $500, and how much you spend will depend on how often you plan to use it and what you want to blend. Paying more generally means better results and more versatility. But there are exceptions, including high-priced models that literally cracked under the pressure of our tough tests and bargain blenders that exceeded expectations.

Before you start looking at what’s currently on sale, get a better idea of what you can expect to spend for what you want. Start your search for your ideal blender with CR’s buying guide and recommended models.

Strollers
May tends to see a lot of price reductions on strollers, so whether you’re getting ready to welcome a new member of the family or you just want an upgrade for your family walks, this is the time to start looking around. Strollers can cost anywhere from $100 to over $1,000. Styling, lightweight materials, and added features can increase the price, but our tests found you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good, safe stroller. And in May, you stand to save even more because strollers tend to get discounted this month.

Buying a stroller requires some research first to ensure that you’re choosing a safe model that’s worth its price. CR’s buying guide can help you determine what you do and don’t want in a stroller, so you can make a smarter purchasing decision.

Wireless & Bluetooth Speakers
A wireless speaker can add groove to any backyard barbecue or tailgate with loved ones. And according to CR’s data, prices tend to fall in May, so you might be able to score a deal on a new one. Decent Bluetooth speakers can range from $20 to $800. Some are waterproof, some have a longer than average Bluetooth range or extended battery life, and some may have smart features, such as Amazon Alexa compatibility or companion apps. And, of course, not all speakers sound the same, so if you fancy yourself an audiophile, be prepared to spend a bit more for quality playback.

CR’s buying guide and product ratings can help you determine the best options so that you can navigate Memorial Day sales and find the speaker you want for less.

Smartwatches
May is also often a good time to start shopping around for smartwatches. Look for sales that are likely to crop up at many online retailers, especially around Memorial Day, and you can finally take the plunge on some high-tech jewelry without overspending.

You’ll want to make sure the smartwatch you choose is going to fit your lifestyle. First and foremost, it should be compatible with your smartphone. But do you want one that has its own network connectivity? How about a heart rate monitor? Or the ability to pay for purchases right on the watch? You should also take into account things like size, battery life, and replacement bands.

Read CR’s buying guide to learn more, then check out our ratings to find the best smartwatch for you.

Wood Stains and Paints
If you’re finding you have ample free time on your hands right now, one way to channel your energy could be to finally attack that home renovation project or DIY furniture upcycle you’ve been talking about for ages. Both wood stains and interior and exterior paints tend to dip in price around May. If you’re planning to refinish your deck, breathe new life into an old dresser, or give your walls a fresh coat of paint, you may be able to find your supplies for less this month.

CR has tested a number of wood stains and paints for things like durability, weathering, fading, and cracking, as well as the number of coats needed to cover dark colors. Read our buying guides for wood stains and paints to learn more about which products are worth buying and why.

Leaf Blowers
Leaf blowers, despite the name, are useful in other seasons as well as fall. They will make quick work of corralling grass clippings and pulled weeds and other debris that can get strewn across your property all year. So you may want to invest in one this month, while you can score a good deal.

Consumer Reports has put more than 50 models, including gas-powered, battery-powered, and corded electric, through rigorous tests to help you find the model that suits your needs. CR’s buying guide will help you learn more so that you can shop with confidence.

Chainsaws
Spring cleanup isn’t just an indoor affair. If you’re ready to tackle some tree work, look for sales on chainsaws in May. A top-rated model can help you clear out brush too thick for electric loppers, fell a tree that’s threatening a roof, slice off dangerous broken tree limbs, or cut a tree into logs for your firepit this summer. Chainsaws come in a range of sizes, from small electric models (some with cords, some without) to hefty gas-powered models intended for heavier work. Prices often correlate with engine size for gas saws and voltage for electric saws, along with the length of the cutting bar—the arm of flat metal that guides the chain.

Finding the right model depends on how—and how often—you plan to use your chainsaw. Check out CR’s chainsaw buying guide and ratings to learn more about the various models.

Carpet Cleaners
If you have a lot of carpeting and a house full of kids and pets, buying a carpet cleaner might be a good investment, and they’re often more affordable in May. Homeowners who only occasionally clean their carpets may typically hire a professional carpet cleaner. Though nothing beats the ease and results of a professional clean, that might not be an option for a while. Thankfully, some of the machines we tested came pretty close for less money.

You may also be able to rent a carpet cleaner, something worth looking into if you don’t plan to deep clean more than a few times a year. Rental fees typically run about $20 to $30 per day, but these models tend to be heavy, harder to use, and not always in the best condition. Keep in mind that rentals might not be available in your area until social distancing requirements are relaxed.

Read CR’s buying guide to get a better idea of what’s out there and what will be best for your needs.

Freezers
Traditionally, stand-alone freezers tend to dip in price around May. But this year, don’t expect to find much in the way of shopping options, let alone savings. Shoppers have been buying up freezers to store extra food and reduce the frequency of their shopping trips, and retailers are struggling to keep up with demand. If you do find a quality freezer available to buy, make sure you look at the shipping options, too, because you may be waiting well over a month to receive the appliance. If you need added storage now, you may want to consider purchasing a refrigerator with a larger freezer to expand your food storage sooner.

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