Do not adjust your calendar. Amazon Prime Day, the e-commerce giant’s banner event, has moved from July to October and altered the entire timeline for holiday shopping.
The two-day sales extravaganza kicks off October 13, six weeks ahead of Black Friday, and Amazon (AMZN) is advertising a lineup of deep discounts traditionally reserved for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Other retailers are offering sales of their own to compete.
Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot, and Nathan Burrow, Wirecutter’s deals expert, shared their best advice on how to shop smart and find the best deals during Amazon Prime Day and elsewhere.
Use Amazon’s tools
Leverage Amazon’s functionality to help you shop smarter, Burrow suggested.
First, add yourself to a waitlist for Lightning Deal items you missed. If an item that “sold out” never went through checkout, you get an alert and may be able to snap it up.
Second, add items you have your eye on to a wishlist using the “Add to List” button. You can adjust your settings on your Amazon app, so you get a push notification when an item becomes available.
Know the competition
Prime Day is expected to generate nearly $10 billion in sales for Amazon, according to research firm eMarketer. With those kinds of numbers, the retail industry is now running under the adage: “If you can’t beat them, join them.”
These major retailers are planning big sales of their own on October 13 and 14 during the Prime Day event:
Even if retailers can’t compete with Amazon’s scale and product breadth, they can at least attempt to sway spenders away from Prime Day with price matching, Burrow said.
“If you're willing to do the additional legwork, you can try online chat for Best Buy price matches or the Walmart customer care line to see if they'll honor a competitor's online price,” he said, “though there are ample exceptions.”
Don’t lose sight of the reason why Prime Day was moved in the first place. The pandemic caused a major breakdown in the global supply chain and it’s still in the recovery process. That said, certain items —especially home gym staples like free weights or dumbbells — are still hard to come by, and expect shipping times to be slower than usual, even at Amazon.
“It's so important to start early because you want to make sure that you get exactly what you want,” Skirboll said.
If you have your heart set on an in-demand item, scope out secondary marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace or Nextdoor for gently used or perhaps even new equivalents being sold in your neighborhood, she said.
Never pay for shipping
Free shipping isn’t a luxury, according to Skirboll, who makes it a point to never pay for shipping. While it’s easier to get free shipping from Amazon, you may find a better deal elsewhere—as long as you don’t have to pay extra to get the item delivered to you.
"There are so many free shipping codes and promotions being offered during the holidays that shoppers should expect free shipping,” she said.
If a retailer isn’t meeting your expectation, pick up the phone and kindly ask a customer service representative if they would be able to waive the fee, Skirboll said.
Read reviews and fine print
Rather than make a purchase in haste, shoppers should scope out a retailers’ return and exchange policy. Read the customer reviews, too, in an effort to eliminate buyer’s remorse.
"Make sure to read reviews and the fine print,” Skirboll said.
Do your research
The internet gives shoppers the benefit of not having to painstakingly search and clip coupons. Browser extensions like Honey and Deal Finder “automatically search and apply coupon codes and cashback offers immediately at checkout,” Skirboll said.
"Do your research and always find a cashback offer or coupon code,” she said. “The goal is to always save money while you're spending it.”
Read more information and tips in our Spending section