Summer closeout sales are on, but some things will be discounted more near the end of the year

With summer sales kicking into high gear, it can be tempting to throw caution to the wind and embark on some pre-Christmas splurging.

We've rolled past the Father's Day and Fourth of July deals and into the back-to-school zone.

But some experts are cautioning shoppers to hold back on some items and wait for what are typically steeper discounts times later in the year.

"August might be better for deeper discounts" on many items, said Lindsay Sakraida, features director of Dealnews.com. And electronics are typically cheaper near the end of the year. The site tracks about 2,000 retailers daily and alerts members who has the best sales for the day.

But depending on what you're looking for and how badly you need it right now, Sakraida said this could be a good month for many purchases. Apparel, shoes, some sports equipment and some airfares are usually discounted well in July, she said.

Laptops and high-definition TVs, while often on sale now, are usually more heavily discounted during the holiday shopping season. And examine your back-to-school and Christmas-in-July sales closely, she said — sometimes, those labels are more marketing tactics than serious discounts.

By looking at past sales data, Dealnews.com has assembled a list of what are likely to be some of the best and worst products to buy this July.

Have a blast buying:

— Anything you can get on clearance. Retailers are getting rid of the last of their previous season's inventories. Sakraida said many items, especially kids' jeans and other apparel, are probably going to be on sale.

"If you need to buy clothes for your kids, July could be a good month for that," Sakraida said.

The deals might not last for long, however. Ken Perkins, an analyst with Retail Metrics, said recently that many retailers are finishing their clearance sales and will likely pull back from deep discounting soon.

— Airfare: Some companies have already posted deep discounts, such as a $29 sale from JetBlue recently. Expect to see more such deals popping up, Sakraida said. To take full advantage of them, however, you might have to fly on less-popular days such as Tuesday or Wednesday.

— Sports equipment. Sakraida said July is typically a good month for golf equipment discounts. Look for clubs on sale and local deal packages, she said. Also, last July was noted as an especially good time to find baseball caps on sale at Kohl's and Lids, so keep your eyes open if you're searching for your favorite team's cap.

Think twice before spending big on:

— Laptop computers. Although many models will be advertised as on sale, Sakraida said the biggest discounts typically come later in the year.

"You're going to still get a better deal around Black Friday or leading up to Christmas," she said. If you can wait a few more months, you'll probably save with the electronics sales later in the year.

One exception is computers built around AMD's A350 processor. Those have been steadily dropping in price, so if you can't wait, search for deals on those computers.

"If you really need a laptop now, go for that," Sakraida said. Also, you can typically save a bundle by buying a laptop during the Carolina's sales tax holidays in early August.

— HDTVs. Much like laptops, those are likely to be much more heavily discounted closer to the end of the year. Real bargains probably won't start until November.

One exception, Sakraida said, is the 55-inch model, which usually offers consumers the best value for mega-sets. This July, Dealnews.com has seen the sets bottom out at just over $1,000, so if you find one for that price, you're probably getting a good deal.

Sales labeled "Black Friday," "Christmas in July," or "Back to school."

The number of such sales increased last year, Sakraida said. But are the discounts really on par with Black Friday or Christmas?

"A lot of times, it is just sort of a name," said Sakraida. "You should be wary of equating it with the really big, big discounts you see around Black Friday. They don't necessarily translate."

So even though the name might be catchy, Sakraida said, don't expect to see the 50 percent to 75 percent off deals that often accompany frenzied shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

And though many retailers are starting back-to-school sales earlier than ever (according to media reports, Target, Wal-Mart, Staples and Office Depot are all starting their pre-school pushes), Sakraida is still cautioning consumers to wait to stock up on items such as backpacks, notebooks and binders.

"Generally, the items you want to buy for a kid going back to school, you can probably get better deals if you waited till August," she said.

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