3. Use promo codes, deal trackers and cash-back sites
While sale prices are great, you can often beat them, McGrath points out. Do a little research, and you may find that the retailer of your choice is offering a promotional code good for an additional discount. "To make sure that you don't miss out on a single promo code, check the retailer's home page, or sign up early for your favorite stores' email lists to get them," she says.
Of course, you'll need to take the extra step of inputting them at checkout to get the extra savings, McGrath adds. Many sites offer them, including RetailMeNot, CouponCabin, TechBargains, Capital One and Amazon Coupons. Some can also be used in store.
What's more, you can get cash back on your purchases at some sites, including Rakuten, BeFrugal and Ibotta, some of which offer deals at thousands of stores. Some sites will be offering higher-than-usual cash-back rates and exclusive offers during Labor Day. "Use these programs to stack cash-back deals on top of sales to maximize your savings," Gall says.
How do you make sure that you're getting the best deals possible without countless hours of research? One way is to automate the process, by signing up for a deal-tracking site, and then downloading an extension to your browser. (Read the privacy rules first.) When you join these sites, you give them permission to search for deals for you.
They add coupon codes automatically at checkout, or alert you when a cash-back deal is available. There are quite a few to choose from, including RetailMeNot, Coupert and Honey. In addition, Popcart sends a pop-up notification whenever a product you're looking at is cheaper on another site.
4. Use store pickup to avoid longer shipping times
When people talk about supply chain issues, they mean everything from ships blocking the Suez Canal to a shortage of truck drivers.
What that means to you is longer shipping times. If you know what you want to buy but would like to avoid mingling with other customers inside the store -- and you'd like to have your purchase soon -- consider using store pickup. You'll get your purchases faster, and you'll maintain social distance, too.
Buy some products later in the year
All of which ignores one question: Should you buy now, or should you wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales, which seem to be arriving earlier each year? Dwyer advises waiting to purchase holiday toys, Halloween decorations, fall apparel and electronics. Also, you may see some appliances and tech products on sale during Labor Day, but the deals will be better in late October and November, she says.
Tech is definitely worth waiting for, agrees McGrath. Electronics, TVs and smart home devices tend to be deeply discounted during Black Friday sales, so she advises waiting until November to see the lowest prices of the year. "Video games and gaming console bundles are also a smart Black Friday buy." Gall adds laptops, keyboards and tablets to that list: "Retailers know that demand will be high [right now] due to back-to-school and continued work from home, so they will be sold at lower-than-average discounts." You'll be likely to pay less if you wait for a bigger shopping event such as Cyber Monday, she says.