7 Things to Buy in August (and 5 Things to Wait On)

Shop tax free items and early Labor Day sales, and save on patio furniture and laptops.
Updated
school supplies

August is known for Back to School shopping, but it's also a great opportunity to shop other items besides notebooks and pencils. With tax free days, end-of-season discounts, and early Labor Day sales, this month gives you plenty of chances to find an excellent deal.

Check out our August buying guide below, and learn what to buy and what to avoid during the last month of summer fun for 2020.

The 7 Best Things to Buy in August

Back to School Gear

Students, parents of students, office workers, and stationery lovers alike can — and should! — take advantage of the office supply deals that pop up this month. Thanks to Back to School season, we'll see plenty of items drop so low, they'll cost less than a buck. At those prices, how can you not stock up?

A ton of discounts will come from Target and Walmart, plus stores like Staples and Office Depot and OfficeMax. Expect to find cheap markers, pencils, scissors, notebooks, highlighters, and tissues.

Wondering about shopping for school supplies in-store this year? The good news is that many retailers will offer their deals online as well as in-store, just like they do every year. If you don't feel comfortable shopping in-store, you should be able to buy online. Be careful when shopping, though, as you may get the best price for some deals if you opt for in-store pickup.

Tax Free Items

While a few states host tax holidays at the end of July, most of these shopping events occur in August. Whether you have kids or not, these tax free weekends (or weeks!) are a great opportunity to stock up on clothing, school or office supplies, and computers, all while skipping the sales tax. However, you'll still want to do research and weigh your options — just because something is tax free doesn't mean it's the best deal!

SEE ALSO: When Is Your State's Tax Free Weekend in 2020?

Summer Clothing (Maybe)

Ordinarily, August is a great time to find discounted clothing that's seasonally appropriate. It's not unusual to see discounts as high as 70% or 75% off at a variety of stores during August sale events. However, 2020 has been a strange year, and some retailers are changing how to proceed with end-of-season sales this month.

For instance, Gap is holding onto clothing, with plans to sell it next year instead of deeply discounting it now. A number of other clothing retailers have filed for bankruptcy, including Brooks Brothers, Lucky Brand, JCPenney, Neiman Marcus, J.Crew, and True Religion.

It's not unusual to see clothing discounts as high as 70% or 75% off during August sale events.

So what does that mean for summer clothing on sale in 2020? We're still expecting sales, with discounts up to 75% off. For example, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is set to start on August 19 for the public — and even earlier for the retailer's cardmembers. However, we might see fewer summer clothing sales overall. If last year's trend does return, we expect to find shorts for women as low as $4, and men's shorts for as little as $6. Dresses will likely start at $10, while men's T-shirts will fall to $4 and women's graphic T-shirts will be as cheap as $6.

Searching for new swimwear? Look for prices to be as low as $11, and for stores like Macy's to cut at least 70% off select men's swimwear from big brands like Nike. Shopping for new denim? Men's jeans could have prices as low as $11, and we could even see a 2-pack of women's jeans for only $17.

Whether you're sending your kids off to traditional school or relying on at-home teaching, August is a good time to hunt for new kids' clothes. We could see basics like T-shirts for as cheap as $2 each, leggings for $5, and pants for $10. Look for children's clothing retailers like The Children's Place to offer up to 60% off, while Walmart could discount kids' clothing up to 75% off, and Amazon could knock up to 30% off school uniforms.

Laptops

We still recommend waiting until Black Friday to shop for laptops, as that's when we see the absolute best offers. However, if you just can't wait that long, the abundant Back to School sales in August are a decent time to snag deals.

SEE ALSO: What to Expect From Back to School Sales in 2020

Currently, shoppers can take advantage of Apple's Back to School promotion, which offers free AirPods with qualifying purchases of a Mac or iPad. Customers can even upgrade to AirPods Pro for an additional cost with this offer.

If you'd prefer a PC over an Apple machine, expect basic builds from brands like Dell to be as cheap as $127, while Samsung Chromebooks could go for around $129. Look for 15" laptops from Lenovo to fall under $300, and 2-in-1 builds from the brand could be as cheap as $230; more-robust 2-in-1s will likely start around $400. Shopping the sales? Count on Dell knocking up to 40% off and Lenovo cutting up to 75% off during their events.

Patio Furniture

Even if you aren't hosting a backyard barbecue this summer, that doesn't mean you have to neglect that space. August tends to be a good month to buy new patio furniture, and you still have plenty of time to enjoy the warm weather before the temperature drops.

Expect Amazon to cut up to 25% off its own AmazonBasics brand of outdoor items, and for Walmart to also discount a ton of patio furniture items during a seasonal sale. Watch for individual items to hit noteworthy prices, as well. Last year we saw portable hammocks for around $30, while Adirondack chairs went for as little as $33, and umbrellas dropped to $17.

Early Labor Day Sales

Labor Day is September 7 in 2020, but we expect sales to start long before then. Last year, the first Labor Day sale we saw popped up on August 20, and Labor Day itself fell on September 2. This year, we expect to see the first sales no later than two weeks before the holiday, which should be around August 24.

Overstock.com hosted the first Labor Day sale we saw in 2019, but Home Depot, REI, Sam's Club, and Columbia kicked off their sales within the next few days. More stores followed suit the next week, including HP, Walmart, The North Face, Lowe's, and Dick's Sporting Goods, among others.

We expect the first Labor Day sales of 2020 to show up by August 24.

Some of these early sales might have modest discounts, but that won't be the case for all of them. The North Face might only knock off 25% again, but Overstock.com should be one of the retailers boasting much bigger discounts, taking up to 70% off furniture, bedding, decor, and outdoor items, as it's done the last two years.

In-Season Fruits and Veggies

Fresh, seasonal produce will still be at its prime this month. Enjoy better prices on several fruits, including apples, apricots, blueberries, cantaloupe, figs, kiwi, mangoes, peaches, plums, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, and watermelon. As for veggies, this is an ideal month to buy acorn squash, butternut squash, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, kohlrabi, lettuce, okra, peppers, summer squash, Swiss chard, winter squash, and zucchini.

And if you want to shop local, check out this site to find the produce that's in season near you. You can choose your state and search by early- or late-month time frames, or by a particular type of produce.

5 Things NOT to Buy in August

Item When to Buy Why?
Latest iPhone September or November Apple usually drops prices on older models when new iPhones are released each September. Prices will also drop more around Black Friday.
Samsung Galaxy Note20 November The Galaxy Note20 has an expected launch date of August 5, so prices will be at a premium this month. Hold off until at least Black Friday, and even longer if you can.
Fall clothes October or November Fall clothes will just be hitting the shelves in August, so don't expect any deals on them. We could see early discounts in October, but Black Friday will carry some of the best clothing deals.
Major appliances Black Friday While Labor Day sales will include some appliance deals, we'll see better discounts and more brands on sale when Black Friday rolls around.
TVs Black Friday We'll see way more deals on TVs around Black Friday, with significantly better discounts, too. If you can, wait until then to buy a new TV.

Readers, what will you be shopping for in August? Let us know in the comments below!


Senior Staff Writer

Julie joined DealNews in 2015. Her work has been featured on MSN, Business Insider, Lifehacker, The Motley Fool, GoBankingRates, and Moneyish. In her spare time, she enjoys baking sweets, reading thrillers, and listening to an ever-growing list of podcasts.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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