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A side view of a mattress
Illustration: Jennifer Tapias Derch

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

Consumer Reports tracks the products we test for years, noting the prices at multiple retailers to determine when they usually fall the most. These are the items most heavily discounted in May.

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. With Memorial Day sales, you can typically find big discounts. Mattress companies hold sales all year long, but the discounts tend to be even better around holiday weekends like this.

They often start running their Memorial Day promotions early in the month and continue them into early June. Typically discounts will improve by 5 to 10 percent compared with regular sale prices, which can really add up, especially for pricier models.

More on Shopping

There’s a lot to consider when buying a new mattress, and your decision will 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.

Blood Pressure Monitors

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, doesn’t have any obvious symptoms, but it can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and a number of other serious health problems. And though your doctor checks your blood pressure at every checkup, a single reading might not be giving you the full picture.

If you want to keep a closer eye on your blood pressure, you can get an at-home blood pressure monitor. Consumer Reports has tested 28 models, comparing their readouts with those of a mercury sphygmomanometer (the device that’s considered the gold standard of blood pressure testing) as well as testing ease of use, comfort, and convenience.

Most models usually cost between $40 and $100, and they often fall in price this time of year. You can choose between upper-arm and wrist monitors, both of which can have a number of different features, though keep in mind that our tests have found that upper-arm monitors tend to be more accurate than wrist models. Our in-depth blood pressure monitor buying guide is a great place to start your research.

Grills

May is the true start of the grilling season, so look for discounts on gas and charcoal grills. The earlier you shop, the better chance you have of saving. As Memorial Day approaches, demand increases and popular models tend to go out of stock or sell for full price.

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 first-time buyers and seasoned grill masters 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 food. So you’ll want to review our grill buying guides if you’re not sure whether you’d be happiest with a charcoal grillgas grill, or pellet grill

Air Conditioners

Air conditioners often go on sale in May, well before the summer heat sets in. But demand starts to increase this time of year, and sales might not last long. So if you find a model you like, especially at a discount, you ought to snatch it up quickly. 

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.

Smartwatches

May is often a good time to start shopping around for smartwatches, according to our data. Look for sales that are likely to crop up at many online retailers, 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? 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.

Blenders

In the market for a new blender? CR has found that many tend to drop in price or go on sale 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 should spend will depend on how often you plan to use it and what you want to do with it. Paying more generally means better results and more versatility. But there are exceptions, including high-priced models that 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.

Leaf Blowers

Leaf blowers are useful in other seasons, as well as in the fall. They will make quick work of corralling grass clippings, weeds, and debris on 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.

Carpet Cleaners

If you have a lot of carpeting and a house full of kids and pets, buying a carpet cleaner is a good investment, and they’re often more affordable in May. Homeowners who clean their carpets only occasionally may typically hire a professional carpet cleaner. Though nothing beats the ease and results of a professional clean, that might not be an option right now. But some of the machines we tested come 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 rental models tend to be heavy and harder to use, and they’re 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

Stand-alone freezers tend to dip in price around May. Last year, thanks to the pandemic, freezers were high in demand and difficult to find in stock, let alone on sale. Now, inventory levels appear to be returning to normal, with most models CR has tested available at multiple retailers, so you may find a much wider range of availability and discounts this year.

Check out our buying guide and ratings to find the right freezer for your needs so that you’ll be ready to buy when it’s in stock.

Strollers

CR’s data has found a lot of price reductions on strollers in May, so whether you’re getting ready to welcome a new little one or you just want an upgrade for your family walks, this is the time to start looking around. Strollers range in price from $100 to more than $1,000. Styling, lightweight materials, and added features can increase the price, but our tests have found that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good, safe model. 

Buying a stroller requires some research first to ensure that you’re choosing a safe one that’s worth the price. CR’s buying guide can help you determine what you do and don’t want so that you can make a smart decision.

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 fire pit 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.

Wireless and Bluetooth Speakers

wireless speaker can add a groove to any backyard barbecue, and you may be able to score a deal on a new one this month. 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. 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.

Bike Helmets

Going for a bike ride is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the spring weather. You and your family should be safe when you ride, so you’ll need trustworthy bike helmets, especially if it's been some time since you bought the ones you have. 

A proper helmet can significantly 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. 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 any damage to it. And May is often a good time to get one for less than usual. 

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 and bugs start to appear in droves. So you’ll be happy to learn that there are often sales on insect repellents and sunscreens this month. Even if you’re not going farther than your backyard, you’ll still want to have these on hand.

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.

Wood Stains and Paints

If you’re finally tackling that home renovation project 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.

Air Mattresses

Consumer Reports no longer tests air mattresses, but when we did, we kept an eye on pricing for every model we looked at. Our data showed that May (along with November) tended to be the best month to get a good price for one, and we expect you'll still be able to find deals on worthwhile mattresses.

One of the most important factors is deflection, or how much a mattress sags over time (if you've ever slept on an air mattress, odds are you know this all too well). You should also look at how to inflate the mattress. Some have air pumps built in, while others come with a motorized pump. There are even extremely budget-friendly options that can be blown up with a good pair of lungs. 

Our air mattress buying guide lays out these and other factors to consider when shopping for an air mattress. Take a look at models CR has tested over the years, many of which are still on the market. And there are plenty of other options as well, so do your research before you buy.

Camcorders

As with air mattresses, we are not currently testing camcorders in our labs. Most phones can record video, and many new models offer 4K quality. Digital cameras tend to have their own video capabilities too, making video-only devices less and less popular. 

However, this can be advantageous if you're interested in purchasing one, because lower demand can drive prices down. CR’s historical data shows camcorders tend to be marked down in May, so start researching models you might want. There are full-sized camcorders and smaller action cams, both of which have a slew of features to choose from, such as resolution, storage capabilities, image stabilizers, autofocus, digital or optical zoom, and more. You can read more about what to look for in our camcorder buying guide.