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Know where to go for the best deals this July 4th

You can expect to see some of summer's best sales during Fourth of July weekend. Take the opportunity to stock up on summer gear and clothing, but wait to buy electronics.

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    Macy's Fourth of July fireworks as seen from a cruise ship in New York.
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When you think of Independence Day, your mind probably turns to backyard barbecues and kids running around with sparklers at dusk. But the 4th of July is also a big summer sales event. So hold off on that shopping spree, because you'll find plenty of products at discount prices closer to the holiday weekend.

The standard deal-hunting advice says to avoid buying seasonal items in-season. But the 4th of July is typically a great time to stock up on summer staples, as retailers start to clear inventory for upcoming back-to-school bargains. In previous years, we've seen summer clothing, swimsuits, and patio furniture receive deep holiday discounts. Read on to find out how much you'll save, and where you'll see the best deals.

Time to Stock Up on Summer Clothes

Clothing is always one of the best buys over the holiday, and last year's 4th of July clothing deals offered savings of up to an impressive 88% off at 6PM and up to 80% off at both JCPenney and Kohl's. While you won't find offers like that at every retailer, 50% off clothing items isn't uncommon — just be sure you're shopping smart, because every brand limits its sales to specific items.

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Last year PacSun, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Gap, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Eddie Bauer all offered at least a 50% discount on apparel. With the shelves stocked with summer-friendly outfits — and swimwear sales included in most stores' offers — it's a good time for a warm-weather wardrobe update.

In addition to standard apparel, shoes can be a good buy ... sometimes. Shoe sales are often included in the holiday discounts at the big department stores, as well as shoe-specific stores like Famous Footwear (up to 15% off) and Foot Locker (up to 50% off). However, both retailers offer more aggressive discounts closer to the beginning of school; last year, Foot Locker slashed prices by 75% in August and 80% in September. If you don't find the perfect pair, then hold off.

Save on Outdoor Activities

Beyond swimsuits and casual wear, you'll also find good deals on outdoor apparel and gear. Last year's most impressive deal came from Jenson USA, which offered up to 90% off bikes, biking gear, and apparel. Cabela's offered up to 60% off throughout the store, with good deals on camping and fishing equipment. Backcountry — a regular on this list for consistently good 4th of July sales — had up to 55% off store-wide with an extra 20% off on climbing gear.

Moreover, Columbia, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Gander Mountain all cut prices by up to 50%, and Bass Pro Shops offered a variety of deals, too. Expect more of the same this year.

Upgrade Your Backyard BBQ

By the time these sales kick off, it may be too late to trick out your back yard for the perfect 4th of July party, but you can get ready for next year with deals on patio and garden itemseBay offered the best deals last year as part of its Fourth of July Frenzy sale with up to 68% off outdoor entertaining items, including patio furniture and stand umbrellas. Sears and Home Depot's sales were close behind, however, with up to 65% and up to 60% off patio items, respectively. Also look for outdoor discounts from mega-retailers Target, Amazon, and Walmart, though what's on offer can vary.

If you're in the market for a new grill, we recommend waiting, as prices tend to drop closer to the end of summer.

If you're in the market for a new grill, we recommend waiting, as prices tend to drop closer to the end of summer. That said, you'll still find a few solid deals during the 4th of July weekend. Last year Sears Outlet offered an extra 10% off grills on top of 4th of July sales pricing, which included some good buys.

If you need charcoal for your barbecue, you'll find sales at Home DepotLowe's, and Walmart.

Despite Tech Sales, You May Want to Wait for Later Discounts

Last year we saw some fantastic sales on laptops, desktops, tablets, and other electronics around the Independence Day holiday. But the best sales for computers, especially laptops, may happen during August's back-to-school sales.

Note that we said the sales may be better. Discounts vary every year, so give careful consideration before you buy — whether that's picking up new tech now or holding off. Let's do a rundown of the big electronics retailers' 4th of July sales, compared to their back-to-school sales.

Hands down, the best 4th of July electronics deals last year came from Lenovo. Its deals of up to 80% off for 4th of July matched its August back-to-school deals — both of which were the biggest discounts from Lenovo in the past year. Dell's discounts of up to 65% off for 4th of July bested its 35% to 45% discount for back-to-school (though neither was quite as good as the 70% discount on refurbished models in October). HP had a less impressive discount of up to 50% off for 4th of July, which was the highest discount the company offered all year; back-to-school sales cut prices by a flat dollar amount, up to $550.

Of the electronics sales, Best Buy is the only one you clearly want to hold off on. The company's 4th of July sales focus more on appliances, while August and September will see the best laptop deals from that store. Whether you buy now or wait for later, take the time to price compare instead of being tempted by that sales tag.

Apple Prices Will Be Much Better in September

One thing you should avoid buying this Independence Day is Apple products. Though you won't find any 4th of July sales at Apple, you will start to see back-to-school deals soon. But stay strong, Apple aficionados! Apple typically releases new iPhones, iPads, and sometimes Macs and MacBooks in September. If you buy new Apple gear now, you may find yourself disappointed if September's Apple announcements come with upgrades and steep price drops on last year's models.

When Will I Find the Best 4th of July Sales?

Sales can start in mid-June and run through mid-July. But beware, if you're looking for the very best deals, some retailers cut prices even further after the holiday to clear out more stock. Last year Macy's offered discounts of up to 70% on July 8, while Columbia bumped discounts up to 60% off by mid-July. You could even find Columbia products discounted by up to 92% at REI Outlet by the end of the month.

The downside to waiting, however, is that items will be thoroughly picked over by the end of the holiday weekend — and, of course, increased discounts aren't guaranteed.

This article first appeared at Dealnews.com.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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