Retail holiday sales improve after dismal 2008
Here's a guide to the best holiday sales and deals for Columbus Day 2012. REUTERS

While it is certainly no Black Friday, Columbus Day is not only a nationally recognized holiday in the U.S., but gives thrifty consumers a chance to open their wallets and score deals and bargain both in stores and online, if you didn’t get Monday off.

Many stores from apparel to electronics to home have slashed their prices and offer special discounts for the holiday, which honors Italian explorer Christopher Columbus who found the “New World” on Oct. 12, 1942.

Most stores offer similar discounts in stores and online for Columbus Day, which was first celebrated as a federal holiday by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937. Some stores have coupons and special offer codes for online shopping, so be sure to check for additional savings like free or reduced shipping.

Here are some stores to score the best deals and bargains during Columbus Day sales, both online and in stores in 2012.

Macy's: 15 percent off using promo code “DEALS,” An extra 10 percent off home goods and 25 percent off clearance.

Lowe's: 10 percent off major appliances; $5 Off Valspar Signature Paint

Sears: 5-10 percent off clothing, tools, sporting goods, home and garden and electronics

Kohl’s: Up to 50 percent off home goods, 15 percent off purchase with coupon or code: “BUYMORE15”

Kmart: 20 percent off televisions, 10 percent off electronics, 50 percent off select shoes, free shipping on orders of $79 or more.

Toys R Us: 41 deals and steals for Columbus Day

Staples: 60 percent off, $5 Off purchases of $25 or more with Coupon

The Children’s Place: Free shipping on all orders, 20 percent off using webcode: “F5J2012,” 60 percent off fall clearance, 30 percent off outweather, 75 percent off select items

Aeropostale: 25 percent off entire purchase using code “25FALLFLING” until 10/8

Express: $15 off $75 purchase, $30 off $150 purchase, $45 off $225 purchase or $60 off $300 purchase using coupon code: “1910,” Buy one, get one for $19.90 tops and sweaters

Gap: 40 percent off select styles, 30 percent off online purchase using code “GAPCOLOR”

Best Buy: 10-20 percent off appliances, Free shipping on PS3 250GB Bundle, $200 off Sony NEX-5N 16.1MP Camera, $449.00 for Dell Inspiron 15.6” Laptop and more

Bath & Body Works: $1 shopping with $25 order or more using code “CELEBRATE25”

Last Call by Neiman Marcus: 40 percent off sitewide

H&M: 20 percent off one item of your choice using this coupon

Office Depot: $15 Off of $75+ with Coupon or Online with Code: “88122247”

Amazon: 30 percent off jewelry, 60 percent off select women’s, men’s and kid’s apparel, 50 percent off select outwear

Urban Outfitters: 30 percent off sale merchandise

Michael’s: 50 percent off any regular priced item

Bluefly: 75 percent off Fall favorites

Rachel Roy: 30 percent off sale items

Pottery Barn: Free shipping Monday using code “FREESHIP,” 75 percent off select items

Puma: 30 percent off entire purchase

GameStop: $29.99 for two games

Big Lots: 20 percent off with coupon

Payless: 20 percent off coupon or off online purchase using code “80466”