Memorial Day is a U.S. holiday set aside to remember the brave people who died in military service to the country. The weekend surrounding that holiday is also considered the unofficial start of summer, complete with heavy traffic everywhere and deals at the shops.
According to Anna-Louise Jackson of Bloomberg, Memorial Day could be the start of the high season for travel thanks to low fuel prices and a stabilizing job market. Florida-based AAA estimated that about 37.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming holiday weekend.
"Disposable income is up, the job market looks better and their financial well-being has improved," senior economist Russell Price of Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit said, adding that "some pent-up demand" will help boost summer travel.
Julie Hall, a spokesperson for AAA, told Bloomberg that Memorial Day would provide "a good indication of what's ahead" because it marked the unofficial start of the peak vacation season. She contended that the "very positive forecast" would hold for the rest of the summer.
Jan Freitag, a senior vice president at Tennessee-based research company STR Inc., told Bloomberg that there were "three big drivers" of hotel demand: gross domestic product growth, the stock market and the unemployment. He thought that all of them indicated "a healthy summer season for domestic travel," citing that first-quarter bookings rose 4 percent from a year ago, outpacing the projected 2 percent growth rate for the year.
According to Bloomberg, hotel operators could increase the average daily room rate during the summer. That's because advance reservations in North American hotel rooms signaled "sustained growth in the low single digits," according to senior industry analyst John Hach of New York-based TravelClick Inc.
"It's a win-win market for hoteliers and consumers," Hach said, adding that consumers can find "very good deals" if they make reservations more than two weeks in advance.
As for those planning to hit the shops sometime over the Memorial Day weekend, Trae Bodge of U.S. News and World Report stated that some items may be worth buying due to the deals made by retailers. She noted that for retailers, "three-day weekends are huge shopping events."
"If you do happen to be in the market for certain items, like a couple more pieces to beef up your warm weather wardrobe, outdoor apparel or equipment or a new mattress, now is the time to buy," Bodge wrote. "If you're not one to consider a day of in-store shopping a day well spent, well, then you can get it done online in a matter of minutes and still get outside to enjoy the weekend's festivities."
Bodge reported that many clothing retailers "will offer rock-bottom prices on spring apparel through the holiday weekend."
"Big, multi-category stores like Macy's and Kohl's usually offer apparel discounts starting at 20 percent off," Bodge wrote. "Even kids can get into the action, and the deals on kids' clothes are even deeper with stores like OshKosh B'Gosh and The Children's Place historically offering discounts in the 50 percent off range."
According to Bodge, the best deals are usually hidden in "the racks in the way back of the store or along the sides." In addition to standard discounts, some retailers allow consumers to add coupons or other offers to sweeten the deal.
"Some stores, like Kohl's and Victoria's Secret, even allow you to stack deals for even bigger savings!" Bodge wrote. "Before you buy any item, especially at a department store, always check your favorite coupon app for extra savings."
Bodge reported that retailers also place good deals on mattresses around this time of year.
"Sleepy's is promoting up to half off every mattress through June 1; Sears is offering up to 60 percent off (plus an additional 10 percent, free delivery and free haul away for Sears cardholders); and 1800Mattress is offering up to 65 percent off Sealy, Serta and Simmons mattresses," Bodge wrote. "Buy now, and in a matter of a few days, you could wake up feeling better than ever."
For those pursuing outdoor activities such as fishing, camping, hiking and boating, Bodge reported that retailers also made deals on related equipment.
"Cabela's Memorial Day Sale includes up to 50 percent on fishing poles, and other outdoor gear like bathing suits and hiking boots for those days when the fish aren't biting, until May 25," Bodge wrote. "Until the 24th, Backcountry.com is slashing prices sitewide by up to 50 percent and offering free two-day shipping when you spend $50."
However, Bloomberg reported that consumer confidence has weakened since April, citing weak retail sales reports. Despite that setback, Price noted that consumer spending on services is outpacing expenditures on goods.
"There are a lot of strong positives in the economy that give people confidence to spend on leisure again," Price said.