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Labor Day sales: What to buy (and skip) this weekend

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(Read caption) Shoppers and sales representatives walk through the aisles at the Home Depot store in Williston, Vt. Appliances are big sale items for Labor Day weekend, and Home Depot typically offers deep discounts.

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This Labor Day, which falls on Sept. 5, many of us will get the day off work. We’ll also be greeted with bargains at retailers and restaurants.

But what should you be opening up your wallet for this holiday? Sort through the sales with our guide for what to buy and skip over Labor Day weekend.

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Buy: A mattress

Year after year, this holiday proves to be one of the best times for a bed bargain. On Labor Day 2015 at 1800Mattress, every mattress (excluding select Tempur-Pedic) was discounted by up to 60%. Shoppers who spent more than $399.98 could get free delivery. Over at Sleep Train, select mattresses were up to $400 off, and qualifying orders were eligible for free same-day delivery. Look for similar discounts and shipping incentives this year.

In fact, Labor Day discounts began early (Aug. 22) this year at Sleep Train. Customers can save up to $400 on select Beautyrest and Posturepedic mattresses or up to $300 on select Tempur-Pedic mattresses. And Overstock has also promised that its Labor Day sale is coming soon. Interested shoppers can sign up for the store’s mailing list to be notified as soon as it launches.

Buy: An appliance

Labor Day sales typically target big-ticket items, and appliances are no exception. In 2015, Home Depot slashed some of its major appliances by 25%. Plus, it took up to 35% off vacuums and floor care. The story was similar at Best Buy, where major appliances were up to 30% off.

Keep an eye out for similar offerings this year. You can expect refrigerators, washer and dryer sets, and vacuums to be reduced. Select Dyson models were over $100 off last year at places such as Sears and Kohl’s.

Buy: A reduced-price meal

It’s not just home goods. Restaurants know hungry shoppers will eat up food promotions over Labor Day weekend, too. Snatch up “buy one, get one free” offers, and don’t forget to check your favorite food joint’s website before you dine in. You’ll often need to bring along a coupon to claim the offer. In 2015, we spotted deals and freebies at places such as Boston Market and Firehouse Subs.

The best way to be alerted to this year’s offers is to follow your favorite fast-food place or restaurant on social media. And if you find yourself dining out on Sept. 5 and don’t see a deal advertised, it can’t hurt to ask for one.

Skip: An electronic

We’re just weeks away from the anticipated Apple iPhone 7 announcement. Accordingly, smartphone deals are expected to pop up later in the month as older models see price reductions, so leave the Apple phone off your to-buy list for now. Two months after that, Black Friday will arrive (on Nov. 25) in all its bargain-hunting glory, with doorbusters on headphones, laptops, tablets and more. If you can hold off on a tech purchase, wait a little while longer.

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Skip: Anything fall-related

Sales are all about seasonality. You can expect the deepest Labor Day deals on older merchandise or inventory that’s on its way out the door — swimsuits and back-to-school supplies, for example. But be careful with new releases, as stores generally don’t discount these as much.

Department stores will unleash their most dramatic bargains on summer clearance; last year, Brooks Brothers discounted spring and summer styles by 60% over Labor Day. Although you’ll likely be able to find some fall clothing deals, they won’t be anything compared with what you’ll spot later in the season. Hold off on cold-weather apparel, fall decor, Halloween costumes and the like.

If you’ll be doing any Labor Day shopping from the comfort of home, check out these tips for getting the best deal every time you shop online.

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @courtneynerd.

This article first appeared in NerdWallet