Although it originally started as a run-of-the-mill anniversary sale in 2015, Amazon Prime Day has become a two-day global sensation, a time for reduced-guilt splurging amid particularly deep markdowns. However, as the 48-hour event has taken shape over time, the deals worth waiting a year for can be hard to spot, especially with increased competition and year-round markdowns. Here’s how to narrow your search, be prepared and make the most of the two-day sale. And yes, you can still shop small (and might even be rewarded for it).
With thousands of deals, slashed prices and celebratory energy, it can be all too easy to fall down a rabbit hole of scrolling (and buying) things you don’t need. There’s nothing wrong with a little browsing, but when it comes to Prime Day, if you really want to shop smart, it’s wise to narrow your search and avoid the homepage. Consider what you actually need, want to upgrade or want to treat yourself to, and tackle the sale from those starting points. Think about it this way: If something seems like a too-good-to-be-true deal, but you’ve never wanted, needed or heard of it, you’ll always save more by not buying it in the first place. And although Prime Day officially begins on July 12, it might be worth checking out the early Prime Day deals to get ahead of and possibly avoid the two-day craziness altogether.
Don’t forget to compare prices
As Amazon has increasingly dominated the ecommerce market, rival outlets have upped the competition for Prime Day by offering comparable promotions to get in on the summer savings frenzy. Depending on what you’re in the market for, it’s wise to shop around and see what other promotions are out there. Amazon might have the best option for, let’s say, new headphones, but if you need new furniture, Target’s Deal Day might have better options. And those headphones — maybe Best Buy has the same model for $50 less. Although it’s more work to keep a few different tabs open, you’ll be that much more satisfied and confident in your purchase when you nail the lowest price for the best product. Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Lowe’s and dozens of other retailers have competing promotions and possibly better prices on the items you’re looking for.
Watch out for inflated prices
It’s crucial, especially now with skyrocketing inflation, to be wary of deals that aren’t really “deals,” but rather reflect an inflated previous price to make the “promotion” seem like a bargain. According to Wirecutter Deals senior editor Nathan Burrow, dozens of categories are vulnerable to price hikes right now, “from kitchen and bedding to fitness and outdoor entertaining.” Burrow suggests reviewing the price history of the item and gauging how much it has increased over time to get a sense if the increase is due to inflation or is jacked up for Prime Day comparison.
Hold out on items that will be marked down later
Although it can be tempting to splurge when a site with as much to offer as Amazon marks down items across categories, remember that some products have historically better sale times. Burrow predicts late August and early September will be the ideal time to purchase mattresses and bedding. Similarly, those late months of summer are likely to present the best deals for outdoor furniture and accessories. Although Prime Day does have some killer discounts, it’s important to remember the sale cycle of seasonal products and hold out if you can.
It’s always important to shop small — online, in stores, year-round — and Prime Day is no exception. When taking advantage of the Prime Day deals, don’t miss the small business section of the sale. With dozens of categories, including handmade goods, home essentials and gourmet pantry items, the small businesses on Amazon offer countless alternatives to big-name brands. For those who want to support the little guy, or even just love to browse, these categories are among the most fun to scroll and find truly unique and high-quality products. Amazon is also running a Small Business Sweepstakes this year to promote its independent brands. After registering to enter, you can shop eligible small businesses using the sweepstakes badge, with every dollar spent correlating to an additional entry. Prizes include VIP passes to music festivals in LA and Las Vegas, a trip for two to the Superbowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona and more.