clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Labor Day Goes Commercial: Shopping Hints For Summer's New Black Friday

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for over two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.

Dear Bargain Hunters,

It used to be that Labor Day was reserved for that last day at the beach or in the backyard—hot dog and cold beer in hands. Alternately, it offered a three- (or sometimes four-) day opportunity to watch Bravo marathons and not talk to anyone.

But that was then. Labor Day weekend has been one of the holiday shopping weekends recently. While not quite as frantic or all-consuming as your Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays, the deals might even be better. Shop it to Me crunched last year's numbers—averaging discounts during each major shopping weekend in 2011. They found that Labor Day's savings averaged around 48%—almost half off! Meanwhile, those Thanksgiving sales came in at a paltry-in-comparison 42%.

So, yeah, you're probably going to do some shopping. But, it's still the summer season's final shout. You should still be outside; you should still be eating hot dogs; you should still be drinking cold beers. Just grab the laptop or the iPad—you can shop to your heart's content without leaving the yard (or the Bravo marathon).

Traditionally, Labor Day sales are a chance for retailers to clear out summer stock. Look for the best deals of the year on summer and swim attire; plus grills, lawn furniture, garden supplies, patio decor, and other seasonal items. The good news is it'll still be warm enough to use this stuff for at least several weeks (or maybe indefinitely, if last winter was any indication). And if winter does actually show up: You can still use that grill next year.

You'll also find a huge selection of best-of-fall and back-to-school on promotion—those buy two get one for kinda deals. These are a great opportunity to stock up on basics—think chinos, cotton tees, gym shorts, socks and, naturally, all those school-is-in-session supplies and sundries. Likewise, with football around the corner and electronics retailers taking any chance they can get to unload TVs—it's a great time to to get a great deal on a new flat screen.

Finally, are you looking to buy a car? While the end of the month is usually the best time to car shop (dealers need to make they're monthly goals and will do just about anything to close a deal on the 29th); Labor Day weekend is one of those work-free spans that actually allows people the time to browse autos. Dealers know that and look to seal as many deals as possible before sales dry up for the season. And, good news for you, September just happens to be when many of the 2013 models hit the lot—that means fire sale prices on the obsolete (at least to the dealers) 2012 models.

But who wants a car? I want cashmere and silk and foulard-printed things! We already provided you with a nice little list of sales to start with—including 65% off at Neiman Marcus, slashed prices at Bird, huge deals at Gap (who, incidentally, is having a huge in-store promotional sale on newer merchandise as we speak), and bonus discounts off already reduced items at Ralph Lauren and Diane von Furstenburg. These sales—at least what's left of them—are still plugging. But there's so much more!

Why not start with America's department store: Macy's! They're offering 25% off all sale merchandise plus an extra 15% off purchases over $99 with code FALL. Also look for additional specials on kitchen appliances, lingerie, bedding, and fine jewelry with unique sales in stores.

At America's discounter, Target, you can save up to 35% off all furniture, with 15% additional savings on patio furniture, assuming you have a patio. They're also offering great deals on TVs, baby clothes, back-to-school, and boots (buy one get one half off).

At Original Penguin you can score $25 off your purchase of $100 or more (or $50 off $200, $100 off $300) with free shipping on orders over $75. Use code OPGSAVEMORE. The deal is available in stores as well. Meanwhile, at DKNY, take an additional 50% off sale merchandise through Monday with code SUMMER50.

Jack Spade's Labor Day discount ended the day before yesterday—which is stupid, it's not even Friday yet. But you can still shop nine full pages of clearence merchandise and save 15% on your order if you sign up for their mailing list. They also offer free ground shipping on all orders. Same goes for Kate Spade, who has eight pages of clearence on offer.

Likewise, while Urban Outfitters isn't calling it a Labor Day sale, there are oodles of bargains to be had—22 pages for women and another eight for men. Prices start at well under $10 for hats, sunglasses, jewelry and other small-ticket accessories.

And at L.L.Bean it's a straight up back to school event—but a good one! Get 20 percent off backpacks and lunchbags plus select kid's clothing, outerwear and footwear. As always shipping (and return shipping) are free; the sales runs through the 3rd.

At Express enjoy $25 off a purchase of $75 or $50 off $150 with code 1810, through Monday. And at Loehmann's save 20 percent off regularly priced merchadise with code 20LT, through Sunday.

In stores, H&M is offering a series of basics and trend pieces starting at just $5 each through Monday. And shoppers in New York City, Los Angeles, or San Francisco may luck into 20% off single-item coupons. Likewise, Old Navy is offering up $10 Super Cash on every full-priced piece of NFL gear purchased in stores through Monday. Each $10 in Super Cash equals $10 off a purchase of $30 in stores from the 7th to the 12th. That's a little complicated, but Old Navy's pages and pages of online sale and clearance merchandise is smooth sailing. So just do that.

Need furniture? Pottery Barn has slashed up to 60% off prices of more than 600 items, while West Elm is offering 15% off all markdowns through Monday with code LONGWKND.

Finally, duh, you should always be checking our Dealfeed radar for any new sales as they happen. It's an exhaustive list that's being updated all the time whether it's Labor Day or not. You can even search specifically for deals on shoes or accessories or menswear—it's good times. Obviously, the aforementioned Shop it to Me is another great reference—their latest list of deals is here. For another Labor Day list we just came across—which includes such things we at Racked don't really cover like special discounts at Southwest Airlines and Boston Market—just click here.

And there's a lot more! Poke around! Buy a ton, save a ton—it's the American way.

· Love, Frank [Racked]