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Plan your President's Day shopping now

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Joseph Kaczmarek/AP

(Read caption) John Godzieba, portraying Gen. George Washington, walks with his troops toward the boat dock during a re-enactment of Washington's historic crossing of the Delaware River. A strong current kept the re-enactors from making the crossing from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.

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While you might associate February with deals on Valentine's Day fare like chocolates and flowers, most of this month's sales will occur around Presidents' Day. Considered to be the first major sales day of the year by the retail industry, Presidents' Day boasts a ton of promotions on everything from clothing to computers. But are any of these sales actually worth your time? We combed the DealNews archives from 2012 and 2013 to see what kind of discounts you can expect from this year's Presidents' Day sales.

Presidents' Day Comes Early, Stays Late

Although the Presidents' Day holiday only occurs on Monday, February 17 this year, the sales could eat up nearly the entire month. In 2012, we saw the first Presidents' Day sale on February 11. Last year, Bass Pro Shops started its Presidents' Day sale on February 5! Most merchants will begin their sales the Friday before Presidents' Day, and carry them through the weekend until Monday. That said, we saw the last Presidents' Day promotion of 2012 on the Friday after the holiday, and the last sale of 2013 happened on the Sunday after the holiday. If these trends hold, this year you can easily expect to be shopping Presidents' Day sales for about a 2-week period.

Extra Discounts for Clearance Clothes, But Not for Shoes

Winter apparel clearance is the name of the game for Presidents' Day clothing sales. And because we've seen extremely cold weather conditions this year, you can bet that retailers will be highly motivated to get rid of any excess outerwear they brought in to meet the increased demand. We saw deeper clearance discounts last year than in 2012, a trend that we're optimistic about seeing repeated in 2014. Expect to see sale and clearance apparel marked up to 67% off on average during Presidents' Day weekend.

Deep discounts in the clearance section are only half of the story, though. Most merchants will include a coupon with their Presidents' Day sales, taking 10% to 25% off orders. Some merchants will limit these coupons to just sale and clearance items, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Over the past two Presidents' Days, we've seen clearance-only coupons taking an extra 30% to 70% off these final-sale items. With savings like that around, who wants to shop the new arrivals?

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Presidents' Day shoe shopping presents a slightly different outlook. Rather than letting customers rummage through massive clearance sections, shoe merchants tend to cut prices on a small selection of items, albeit with big discounts. If trends from the past two years hold up, you can expect shoe markdowns of about 72% off during Presidents' Day weekend. That said, most merchants won't offer additional discounts via coupons. Fortunately, many shoe retailers will offer coupons that bag free shipping.

Bargain Laptops Shine in a Sea of Mediocre Electronics Deals

Around Presidents' Day last year, we saw prices drop on budget laptops. Specifically, the best deals during this time last year were for 15" AMD dual-core systems, which fell as low as $205 — outside of Black Friday, that was the best price we saw in 2013 for these systems. For Presidents' Day 2014, once again you should look to casual-use laptops for the best deals. You won't find much relief on gaming laptops or other powerful systems, but your basic builds could see overnight drops of $100 to $150 during Presidents' Day weekend. As we previously mentioned, the builds to keep your eye on this month are 15" Haswell Core i5 systems and touchscreen ultraportables.

Looking to score more electronics during this year's Presidents' Day sales? Maybe you should think twice. While merchants like Newegg and Best Buy will certainly have Presidents' Day sales, we haven't seen many truly spectacular deals in the past two years. The exception to this is storage deals, particularly with server-related hardware like NAS. Over the past two years, we saw an average savings of $48 on server storage during Presidents' Day sales, so this could be a good time to upgrade your home network.

Home & Garden Sales to (Mostly) Cheer About

Home goods tend to take center stage in a lot of Presidents' Day sales. This year, you can expect to see tons of offers on kitchenware, appliances, and tools, but not all of those deals are worth checking out. We'll break down the specifics in a second, but first let's talk coupons. Big department stores likeMacy's and Sears tend to offer a combination of coupons, with savings distributed differently depending on department. The name of the game here is exclusions, and they can be deal-killers. One example: Last year Macy's offered a coupon that took 10% to 15% off select items sitewide, but getting the 15% discount to apply took a lot of trial and error.

So what home goods should you be shopping for during Presidents' Day? Kitchen goods see very good discounts at this time, especially sale and clearance items. Extra discount coupons are not uncommon, taking 10% to 20% off sale purchases. For the best bargains, check out the cookware and small appliances. But don't expect to score free shipping; in-store pickup might be your best option on these items, if it's available.

Large appliances also see decent discounts during Presidents' Day weekend. Sears and Lowe'sespecially have offered a goodly number of appliance promotions over the past two years, taking 25% to 40% off select brands. With large appliances, look for stacking coupons that offer dollar-off discounts if you make a minimum purchase, such as $5 off $50 or $20 off $200.

With the sheer volume of tool promotions available during this time, Presidents' Day could be renamed "Tool Sale Day." Sadly, just because there are a ton of hardware deals doesn't mean these deals are especially good. About 13% of the tool deals we've seen on Presidents' Days past were hot enough to be marked Editors' Choice — to put that in perspective, about 15% of all the tool deals we've seen in the past two years were marked Editor's Choice. If (for some reason) you're just dying to buy some tools during Presidents' Day weekend, you might score a bargain on a set of Craftsman tools, as the coupons from Sears and Kmart will most likely stack on these items.

As you're checking out this year's Presidents' Day sales, don't forget to take a moment to reflect on the men who've made this country great. Here's to Washington, Lincoln, and all the rest — and here's to you, deal-seekers! May you find all the clothing, laptops, and home goods you could ever want this Presidents' Day.

Marcy Bonebright is a features writer for Deal News where this article originally appeared: http://dealnews.com/features/What-to-Expect-from-Presidents-Day-Sales/967857.html


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