A side view of a mattress

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, bike helmet, insect repellent, and sunscreen for the summer months ahead.

But May 2020 was quite unlike previous years. As some states slowly opened up again and others continued to observe social distancing requirements, the bulk of Memorial Day sales were primarily online. And certain items continued to be difficult to find, let alone at a discount. Take freezers, for example. They typically go on sale this month, but because of an increased demand for food storage now that more people are staying home, it’s been hard to find them. The same may be true for air conditioners.

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 often start running their holiday promotions early in the month and continue them into early June. This can also be a good month to get a new air mattress at a discount if you’re in the market.

More on Shopping

There’s a lot to consider when buying a new mattress, and it 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.

Grills

May is the true start of the grilling season, so look for discounts on gas and charcoal grills.

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. Retailers try to move old inventory to make room for the new. But it might be difficult to find air conditioners online right now, especially on sale, because many people have already bought them. 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. 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.

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 may mean it’s not performing as well. If your dishwasher just isn’t cutting it anymore, May could be a great time to invest in a replacement. 

Keep in mind that if you're 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 appliance for your home.

Blenders

In the market for a new blender? CR has found that many 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 $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.

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 $100 to over $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.

Ranges

You may also find decent sales on ranges this month, again thanks to Memorial Day discounts and deals toward the end of the month. If you’re replacing your existing range, you may want to stick with a similar make and model because it will mean less 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.

Leaf Blowers

Leaf blowers are useful in other seasons besides 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.

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 & Bluetooth Speakers

wireless speaker can add a groove to any backyard barbecue. And according to CR’s data, prices tend to fall in May, so you may 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. 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 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'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.

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 these 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.

Wood Stains and Paints

If you’re finding you have more free time on your hands right now, channel your energy into 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.

Freezers

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 or savings. Shoppers have been buying 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 have to wait well over a month. If you need added storage now, you may want to consider purchasing a refrigerator with a larger freezer to expand your food storage sooner.

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.