What's better to buy in July: back-to-school supplies or TVs?

July is finally here. Find out which retailers are having Independence Day sales, and what items you should – and should not – buy this month to save money.

Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters/File
Shopping carts are stacked inside a Target store in Dallas, Texas. July is here, which means consumers can expect to see some hot deals this month.

Summer is officially in full swing. Though you may think the hot, summer months translate into fewer deals, quite the opposite is true. In addition to 4th of July sales, this month is also ripe with back-to-school bargains, many of which will provide deep discounts on apparel and tech. Plus, food lovers will be able to score a multitude of freebies this month as we celebrate a variety of food-related holidays from national cheesecake day to national ice cream day.

And for more deals every single day of the month, consider signing up for the DealNews Select Newsletter to get the best deals of the day delivered to your inbox.

Macy's, Backcountry, and Nautica Will Kick Off 4th of July Sales

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Independence Day is the summer's rockstar holiday, triggering sales on a variety of items from sporting gear to apparel. And while technically the 4th of July is a one-day event, the accompanying sales traditionally last through the first two weeks of July. In terms of discounts, last year, Macy's took 50% off a wide selection of items with an extra 15% to 20% off popular categories like swimwear, suits, and watches. It was the best 4th of July sale the retailer has had in the past three years.

Another 4th of July veteran, Backcountry, also took 50% off hoodies and sporting apparel, whereas Nautica and The Children's Place each took 40% and 70% off select apparel, respectively.

Back-to-School Sales Take Off in July

The coming weeks will be flush with laptop deals, and while you may see some tempting deals this month, keep in mind that our data shows that for the past two summers, prices typically drop an extra 8% to 25% in August and early September. These price drops generally apply to mainstream machines, 15" laptops with Intel's current processor, and a minimum 4GB of RAM and 500GB hard drive.

If you're not up to date on the latest laptop tech, don't worry. This year's Intel processor (called Broadwell) doesn't offer much of a speed increase over last year's CPU (called Haswell). Moreover, the price difference between both has been slowly diminishing to the point where last month we saw a 15" Broadwell laptop sell for just $20 more than a similarly-configured 15" Haswell machine. As a result, we recommend the newer processor, but don't be distraught if you buy Haswell as both machines are very capable of handling all of today's programs.

Score Free Food All Month Long

July has a multitude of obscure food holidays, including national fried chicken day (July 6), national pecan pie day (July 12), national ice cream day (July 20), and national cheesecake day (July 30), to name a few. That means you can expect big chains to offer freebies or aggressive discounts on their designated days. For instance, last year The Cheesecake Factory took 50% off one slice of cheesecake, whereas Baskin-Robbins offered a BOGO sale on its ice cream cones. You can expect to see similar freebie deals from various food chains throughout the month.

Hit the Beach in Style With Sitewide Swimwear Deals

Although we typically advise against buying clothes that are in-season, July tends to be one of the best months for swimwear deals. Last year we saw a wide assortment of sitewide swimwear deals from Frederick's of HollywoodL.L. BeanH&M, and 6pm. You can expect discounts to range from 25% to 80% off and starting prices as low as $5 for children's swimwear and $9 for men's and women's swimwear.

Book That Trip to Europe...

Thanks to a strong dollar and a weak European economy, there's no longer a reason to postpone that summer vacation to Europe. A recent study by travel site TripAdvisor reveals that the cost of a one-week summer trip to Europe has declined by an average of 11%. Among the cheapest cities to visit are Istanbul (25% price drop), Stockholm (23% price drop), and Copenhagen (20% price drop). Check out our travel page to stay abreast of the latest cheap European vacation packages.

Or at the Very Least, Take an Extended Holiday

Don't have the time for an extended trip to Europe? Not to worry, our travel data shows that Philadelphia is one of 2015's most budget-friendly cities for a last-minute 4th of July vacation. Even if you can't travel on Independence Day, our research shows that prices will fall the weekend after July 4, with hotel prices in destinations as diverse as Myrtle Beach and New York City dropping by around 10% to 20%.

Take Advantage of the Cheapest Air Conditioner Deals of the Summer

If you're going to buy an air conditioner this summer, do it in July. On average, air conditioner deals we saw last July were 16% cheaper than deals we saw in June, and 14% cheaper than deals we saw in August. To avoid expensive electricity bills, check out our guide to purchasing the right air conditioner based on your living space. Last year Newegg and Walmart offered the cheapest deals.

Pass on the TV Deals, But Keep an Eye on 32" and 55" Sets

HDTVs once again remain a don't-buy item for the month of July. Deals on HDTVs are scarce during the summer and this month will be no exception. Nevertheless, we understand sometimes you simply can't wait for the right deal to come along. If you happen to fall into that camp, we recommend opting for a name-brand 55" HDTV. Deals on these sets have plateaued at $500 and are fairly easy to find from retailers such as Best BuyAmazon, and Micro Center. Dell has also been a solid provider of cheap TV deals and many times they'll bundle a generous gift card to sweeten your TV purchase.

Outside of 55" sets, consumers should be on the lookout for 32" 1080p HDTVs. Small enough to fit in the tightest of dorm rooms, deals on these sets typically ramp up during the summer months. Although traditionally September offers better deals on these TVs, if you can't wait that long, look for deals this month that cost $160 or less.

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