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10 Things to Buy in August (Including the Best of Back to School!)

Back-to-school supplies can be had for just pennies, but you can also score discounts on summer clothes and wine.
what to buy in august

Happy Dog Days of Summer, deal-seekers! Back-to-school sales are in full swing, and consumers will be inundated with end-of-summer clearance sales in the coming weeks. As an added perk, select states will offer tax-free holidays, which are ideal for big purchases.

Read our buying guide to see the sales you should take advantage of this month. Check out the tips below, then sign up for the DealNews Select Newsletter to get the best deals delivered to your inbox every day.

10 Things to Buy in August

Tax-Free Purchases

Sixteen states will offer sales tax holidays this summer. Dates vary, but most fall between August 4 and 6. On each state's designated days, shoppers will be able to purchase select products such as computers, back-to-school supplies, and clothing without incurring any sales tax.

Sixteen states will offer sales tax holidays this summer. Dates vary, but most fall between August 4 and 6.

Don't forget, you should still compare prices to online options, especially if you're buying something big like a laptop.

Summer Apparel

Depending on where you are, you may still have months of warm weather left. And you can always buy super affordable threads now and put them away for next year. Either way, you can take advantage of August's summer clothing clearance sales to stock up on last-minute summer gear. Expect to see summer sales from the likes of Michael Kors, 6pm, Nordstrom Rack, and Dick's Sporting Goods, all of which discounted select items by at least 60% last year. So consider stocking up, and if you're buying for kids, don't forget to buy some larger sizes to accommodate growth spurts.


August will provide more footwear deals than July, and more Editors' Choice deals than September. This is especially true for kids' shoes, which saw twice as many deals in August than in September. Some best bets included Converse sneakers from $25 (a low by $9), L.L.Bean canvas sneakers from $14 ($36 off), ASICS running shoes from $27 (low by $11), and Polo espadrilles for $200 ($125 off).


Our data shows that laptop prices typically drop an extra 8% to 25% in August and early September. And last year, August had 24% more computer deals than September! We've seen aggressive discounts from stores like Adorama, Dell Home, Lenovo, and the Microsoft Store, on laptops from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Asus. Look to save up to $150 on entry-level 15" PCs, with prices in the $350 range.

SEE ALSO: What to Expect From Back to School Sales 2017

Back-to-School Supplies

Office supply stores will slash prices for what is often one of their biggest events of the year. Everyone can take advantage of reams of paper, notebooks, pens and pencils, tissues, and paper towels that can go for literal cents. (We've even seen reams of paper for free after rebate, and Kleenex for 37 cents.) And remember, you don't have to be a student (or have one) to shop back-to-school sales.

If you are shopping for your student, we found that Target typically offered the best deals on supplies, based on sample school shopping lists for grades K through 8. They were followed closely by Walmart. Amazon won't have the best prices unless you're buying in bulk, which might be great for big families or those who want to pool with other families.

Patio Furniture

While it may seem odd to upgrade your patio furniture so far into the summer, August is actually a great month for buying new outdoor pieces. Last year, there were over twice as many patio furniture deals in August than September. And any furniture you buy today you'll still be able to use throughout August and most of September, when temperatures are less humid.

Last August we saw major clearance sales from Target, Walmart, and Sears, with discounts that ranged from 40% to 68% off. Look for full outdoor dining sets from $180 (low by $149).


This might not be surprising, but swimwear deals really drop off a cliff come the fall. Grab end-of-season deals on bathing suits from just $2 before they disappear almost completely in September.

SEE ALSO: These Are the Dos and Don'ts of Buying a Swimsuit Online

National Park Service Senior Passes

Since 1994, US citizens and permanent residents over the age of 62 have been able to buy the America the Beautiful — National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass for the low, low price of $10. This pass covers fees at over 2,000 National Parks and other federally managed lands for life. (For comparison, an a normal annual pass costs $80.)

Sadly, this gravy train is coming to a stop, seniors! Due to Congressional legislation, that price is going up to $80 on August 28. You can still get a pass before then at the current price in person at a federally managed site, or by mail or online for an additional $10 processing fee. The Parks Service is expecting high demand for this bargain, and warns that there might be delays of "up to several months" when ordering by mail or online.


September is when vineyards harvest their grapes, and there's some anecdotal evidence that they try to clear out inventory to make space for the literally tons of grapes that are about to come in. Look for bundle deals that will net you as many as 15 bottles of wine for just $44, saving you $222 off list.

We see five times as many deals on air conditioners in August as in September, with prices dropping by almost half.

Air Conditioners

If you need some relief from the last brutal heat waves of the season, now is a great time to get a new air conditioner. We see five times as many deals on these items in August as in September, with prices dropping by almost half. Last year, one of the best deals we saw was a Haier 6,050 BTU window air conditioner for $155 — that's $125 off.

4 Things You Should Wait to Buy


We know you want to take advantage of the last weeks of grilling season, but prices on both gas and charcoal grills (not to mention smokers) will drop significantly in September. While grill discounts bring prices to the mid-$100s in August, they can be had for $75 next month.

SEE ALSO: When is the Best Time to Buy a Grill?


August is actually not a bad month for TV deals — it has more discounts and more Editors' Choice deals than any other summer month, and is followed by a steep drop in deals in September. However, we're already looking ahead to Black Friday! If you're going to drop hundreds of dollars on a major purchase, it might be worth waiting less than four more months for truly great deals.

That said, we realize sometimes things break unexpectedly, or you might have a student heading off to college. You can look for name-brand 55" or larger TVs priced at or around $450, or save an extra $100 if you opt for an off-brand set. For college students, late August and September tend to see a rise in deals for 32" 1080p TVs at around $150, or even 720p sets for $110.

iPhones and iPads

This month, retailers will try everything to get you to upgrade your iPhone or iPad. However, August is a bad time to do so, since Apple traditionally unveils new iPhones and iPads in September and October, respectively. That means any Apple handheld you buy today, regardless of its current price, will be significantly cheaper in the weeks to come.

Fall Clothing

While it's clearance time for short sleeves and shorts, sweaters and jackets will be at their highest prices of the year. Students will probably need a few essentials to head back to school, try to wait until at least October for discounts on cool-weather apparel. The fall is also a great time to buy jeans, which stay on sale even after back-to-school season is over.

Readers, what are you looking forward to buying in August? Let us know in the comments below.

Editor Emeritus

Ben has been researching the best deals and offering expert financial insight at DealNews since 2014. He's been featured on Good Morning America and Fox and Friends, and has been quoted by Reuters, Time, Money Magazine, and more. Follow him on Twitter @BenDealNews.
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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iPad just had a relaunch in March, both the new iPad 5th gen and iPad Pro (And iPad Mini has been relegated to a minor position, though its cost-per-gigabyte went down) so as an Apple reseller, I'd say iPad is safe. iPhone yeah, don't invest right now unless you don't care about getting the newest thing or you get a remarkable deal. I'd still suggest waiting because the period between when the new Phone is announced and it goes on sale the Carriers will be pushing obscene deals to clear inventory space.
I think that waiting for Black Friday is iffy advice. They do have good deals. However, now I can go online to any store and get the prices listed. Black Friday it's a craps shoot.