Here’s what to buy, what to wait on, and how to beat other shoppers to the most in-demand items on Prime Day July 16 and 17.
It’s Black Friday in July.
The fourth Amazon Prime Day, which will span a record 36 hours from 3 p.m. EST on July 16 through July 17, is expected to generate around $3.4 billion in sales worldwide with more than 1 million deals.
And it’s spawning plenty of copycat midsummer blowouts. Walmart boasts up to 85% off clearance electronics, and the $129 Google Home smart speaker for $99, with free two-day shipping (sound familiar?) Best Buy recently offered $500 off on select Sony 4K TVs through July 15, and will match the prices of retailers like Amazon. A recent report by deals site BlackFriday.com found that 21% of surveyed shoppers plan to take advantage of a “Black Friday in July” discount by dropping around $250 on average, and 50% are banking to go big on Prime Day.
But Prime Day is still king. Phillip Dengler, who tracks late November sales on BestBlackFriday.com, told Moneyish that 76% of Prime Day prices last year were better than Black Friday prices, particularly on Amazon devices. He expects at least 70% of this year’s deals to be better than what you’ll see this fall, as well. Plus, Amazon is rolling out 50% more Spotlight deals this year, including the Echo Show that’s already $100 off, plus Whole Foods discounts. “The first Prime Day was likened to a bad garage sale, but Amazon took note of the reception, and the company has steadily improved its offerings,” James K. Willcox, a tech journalist from Consumer Reports, told Moneyish.
Still, poring over a million items is overwhelming, so retail experts have helped Moneyish put together your ultimate Amazon Prime Day(s) Survival Guide.
BEFORE PRIME DAY KICKS OFF
Sign up for Amazon Prime. The sale is exclusive to Prime Members, and a yearly membership runs $119, which includes free two-day shipping on eligible items and other perks. Or, sign up for Amazon’s free 30-day Prime trial offer just for Prime Day, and cancel it before the month is up. Beware that members often fall into the “Prime trap,” spending more than double ($1,500 versus $625) what casual Amazon shoppers do.
Make sure your payment and shipping info is correct. Willcox warned that every second counts on Prime Day — especially with Lightning Deals that only last for a few minutes — so searching for your credit card or having to update your mailing address can cost you a great bargain; items get deleted from a person’s Amazon shopping cart after 15 minutes if they haven’t completed the purchase. And if you have an Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card, it offers 5% cash back on all Amazon purchases; plus, cardholders shopping at Whole Foods Market get 10% cash back on up to $400 in purchases between July 14 and 17.
Turn on 1-click ordering. This feature will even further streamline your checkout process on Prime Day; just as it sounds, you’ll be able to buy an item with just one click instead of having to go to your shopping cart and check your payment and shipping preferences.
Download the app. Willcox said the Amazon app lets you sign up for deal alerts, and gives advance notice of sales and brief Lightning Deals before they’re posted on the desktop site. You can also create a “Watch a Deal” list to keep tabs on items you’re interested in, and to get notifications for when they are about to go live.
Shop at Whole Foods. Besides the 10% cash back you’ll get shopping with your Amazon card from July 14 through 17, Prime members who spend $10 at Whole Foods from July 11 through 17 will get a $10 Amazon account credit to use on Prime Day.
Track what you want to buy in advance. Palmer also suggests making a wish list, and watching prices over the next few days. “You should have a sense of the prices of the items you have your eye on not just at Amazon, but across other retailers, too, so you can easily recognize a good deal if you see one on Prime Day,” she said.
ON PRIME DAY
Shop on a desktop or laptop. “Amazon’s app is a great tool for browsing and finding upcoming deals, but we always recommend making actual purchases on a computer,” said Dengler. “It is quicker — and allows you to have more than one window open, which is essential for comparing prices and looking up third-party reviews for products.”
If something is sold out, join the waitlist. Remember, items get knocked out of someone’s shopping cart if they take more than 15 minutes to purchase. And those on the waitlist get alerted when they’re next in line, so you can still score if someone doesn’t seal the deal.
The best deals come toward the end. Based on previous Prime Days, Dengler noted that some of the most sought-after items (TVs and video games) were not available until the final hours. And don’t lose sleep; Amazon won’t likely drop its best deals overnight. “It will upset people, because nobody is awake,” he said.
Check competitors. “Consumers can use a browser-extension like Honey to compare prices across the web, as well as the price-tracking website CamelCamelCamel to compare historical prices on Amazon,” Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert for NerdWallet. Willcox suggested watching how other major retailers like Best Buy, Target and Walmart match or beat Amazon’s deals. “It will pay to put Prime Day sales in your shopping cart, and then do some quick comparison shopping to see if other retailers are reacting to Amazon’s sales,” he said.
BAG THESE DEALS
Amazon devices. “Many of the best deals during Prime Day are on Amazon’s own smart devices; that’s not surprising, since Amazon can play with margins to make these products very attractive, and they own 100% of the sale,” said Willcox. “It’s also harder for other retailers to match or beat prices on Amazon’s own products.” BestBlackFriday.com predicts: the Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD for $39.99 (regular $69.99); the Kindle Paperwhite E-reader for $79.99 (regular $119.99); and the Echo Dot for $24.99 (regular $49.99.)
Video game consoles and bundles. “Like TVs, video games will be featured items on Prime Day. (But) if you can hold off, you should definitely wait until November,” said Dengler. “You can get a good deal, and feel good knowing you got a better price than you would get most of the year, but Cyber Monday will be better still.”
HOLD OFF ON THESE DUDS
TVs. “Prime Day is always big on TVs, but July is not the best time of the year to get a new TV,” said Dengler. “November, and more specifically the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, easily sees the best prices on premium HDTVs from a variety of brands.”
Toys. “While November is often thought of as a great time to buy toys, the best time is actually December,” said Dengler. “Prime Day toy deals will be OK, but waiting until December is ideal.”
Summer Clothes. “We never recommend buying new clothes in the middle of the season, and Prime Day is no exception,” said Dengler. “Wait until August to buy summer apparel for even better deals.”
Apple Products. “For Apple deals, we recommend Best Buy or B&H Photo Video,” said Dengler. “September is always the best time to buy old iPhones as this is the month Apple announces new models. Hold off on any Prime Day iPhone deals.”
This article was originally published on July 11, 2018.
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