On Sale in May: Mother's Day Gifts & Summer Wear


May Brings Warm Weather -- and Hot Deals

May is a month of change. Starting with the spring flowers of May Day and Mother's Day, it revs up to the Memorial Day cookouts, campouts and ballgames that kick off summer.

Smart shoppers will find bargains to match both sides of this month's mercurial nature -- from discounts on delicate flowers to sales on backyard barbecue staples.

Whether you're looking to find a few new T-shirts, a gift for mom, mouthwatering summer produce or a little downtime with a workout or spa treatment, May holds bargains for you.

Here are more than a dozen things that are on sale in May.

Luggage and Summer Clothes on Sale in May

If your perfect summer involves getting away from it all, lounging by the water with a book or listening to some favorite tunes, most of your supplies are likely to be on sale in May.

Whether you plan a trip or just a jaunt to the pool, May offers bargains on casual summer clothes, says Daniel Butler, vice president of retail operations for the National Retail Federation.

T-shirts, tank tops, shorts and sandals all get deeper price cuts -- 30% to 50% off -- in May, he says. The great part for consumers is the timing, Butler says: "Warm weather is in full swing."

Luggage is on sale in May, too. Because travel baggage is a popular gift for new grads, savvy shoppers will find discounts of 30% to 50% this month, he says.

Personal electronics and accessories are on sale in May, too. Look for laptops, tablets and e-readers for 10% off, says Jim Barry, spokesman for the Consumer Electronics Association.

Accessories, such as cases and carriers, will often be discounted 10% to 25%, he says. "Shop smart, and you could really do well."

Mother's Day Flowers on Sale in May

Looking for flowers for Mother's Day? Think orchids or lilies, says Carol Caggiano, spokeswoman for the Society of American Florists.

"Orchids are huge these days," she says. Both in cut flowers and plants, consumers can find discounts of 20% to 25% in bright colors such as yellow and orange (rather than pastels), especially early in May. Or they may find the bargain in terms of buy one, get one specials, she says.

With cut lilies, consumers can find discounts of 10% to 15% in May, Caggiano says. The best prices are in brights, rather than the pastels that are popular for Mother's Day, she says, adding that multiple purchases often yield better prices.

In the latter half of May, roses really come into their own -- and that means discounts of 20% to 25% on cut flowers and on rosebushes, Caggiano says.

One way to save on all types of flowers is to buy "grower's bunches" or "market bunches" -- bundles of 10 to 25 flowers wrapped only in paper or cellophane, without added greenery or other extras, Caggiano says. "It's packaged more like it's going from the wholesaler to the retailer rather than to the consumer."

Flowers for the Garden Are on Sale in May

If you're sprucing up outdoor living spaces, May has bargains for you.

As green thumbs dig into the soil in May, look for specials on bedding plants, both in flats and hanging baskets, says Carol Caggiano, spokeswoman for the Society of American Florists. Discounts of 10% to 20% are available on petunias, geraniums, pansies and "anything that you see for outdoors," she says.

While you won't see the fire-sale prices of the later summer season, buying in May means scoring a smaller discount with healthy flowers that you have time to plant and enjoy, she says.

Looking for a bargain on fresh-cut flowers? Buy locally grown from a florist or farmers market, Caggiano says. With locally grown blooms, "the quality is usually good -- the flowers are usually picked the day before, and there's not a lot of transportation or storage damage," so you get a longer vase life.

Cosmetics and Housewares on Sale in May

You're liable to find bargains in the two weeks before Mother's Day at the cosmetics counter.

Look for fragrance and body care sets or gift baskets, says Daniel Butler, vice president of retail operations for the National Retail Federation. While specials vary from line to line, you're likely to see more products for the money rather than discounts, he says.

Personal care items are on sale in May, too. Many small electronics, such as foot spas and massaging chair pads, will have discounts of 25% to 40%, Butler says.

The combination of Mother's Day and the start of wedding season means a lot of retailers offer discounts in May on small housewares such as coffee makers and vacuum cleaners, Butler says. "There's not as wide a (profit) margin on those," so look for discounts of 20% to 30%, he says.

Melons and Peaches Are on Sale in May

Good weather permitting, shoppers will see lower prices in May on juicy stone fruits -- peaches, apricots and cherries.

"You'll see peaches and apricots anywhere from $3 to $4 a pound, says James Parker, facility team leader for the global produce buying office of Whole Foods Market. Toward the end of May, they could be close to $2 a pound or less, he says.

Cherries, which started out at $8 to $12 a pound, should be about half that by month's end, he says.

This month, shoppers will see lower prices on heavy summer melons, such as cantaloupe and honeydew, he says. As farmers start harvesting crops grown closer to home (Texas, Florida and Mexico), lower transportation costs will mean lower prices on that fruit.

"If you're used to paying $4 each, you can expect that to go down to $3 or even lower, depending on how close you are to the source," Parker says. If you buy by the pound, "you will see the price drop to below $1" a pound, he says.

Fresh Berries and Corn are on Sale in May

While the calendar still says spring in May, a lot of summer favorites roll in from domestic growers -- plentiful and much less expensive. Fresh corn, for example.

If you're paying a dollar an ear, in most places it could be anywhere from 50 to 75 cents (per ear), says James Parker, facility team leader for the global produce buying office of Whole Foods Market. But it will usually be sold in multiples, he says.

Artichokes, which have been steadily coming down in value, should hit rock bottom in May, at about $1 to $1.50 each, he says.

May is prime berry season, too. Containers of fresh strawberries will cost anywhere from $2.50 to $4 a pound, depending on whether you're getting conventional or organic berries, Parker says. Likewise, blueberries will drop to less than $3 for a 6-ounce package, he says.

And "it's peak season for Haitian mangos," Parker says. They're about twice the size of an average mango, so there's more fruit for the money, he says. Plus, he adds, it "is the best-tasting mango you'll eat all year."

Spas and Gym Workouts Are on Sale in May

May is National Fitness and Sports Month. For consumers, that means free workouts and classes at participating gyms and clubs May 7-13.

During the first part of the week, an estimated 1,000 participating gyms and health clubs invite members to bring guests free, says Meredith Poppler, spokeswoman for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. Then May 11-13, those same clubs will offer free membership passes to everyone, she says.

Throughout the month, participating clubs will serve up complimentary classes for existing members on things such as diet and nutrition and different types of exercise, Poppler says. Find a club in your area at HealthClubs.com/GetActiveAmerica.

Spas offer discounts in May, and you have your mother to thank for that.

"Spas all over the country are offering packages and discounts" aimed at moms and Mother's Day shoppers, says Lynne McNees, president of the International Spa Association.

You'll find package deals and two-for-one or group discounts, so that you and mom can enjoy some spa time together, she says. And you'll discounts everywhere in May -- from day spas to destination and hotel spas.