Consumers are still feeling the heat of high inflation — and that could mean some big discounts during this year’s Amazon’s Prime Day sales event.
two-day festival of deals falls on July 11-12. The sale is exclusively for members of the company’s Prime program. Basic membership costs $14.99 a month or $139 a year and includes free shipping, access to streaming video and music and other benefits.
When it comes to sales, some deals are seasonal: Analysts typically advise consumers to wait until December and January to buy toys, winter clothing and bed linens, for instance, and to lower their expectations if they’re on the hunt for furniture. The latest versions of popular smartphones and other electronics are also not usually included in Prime Day deals, experts say.
Although summer is typically a slow time for the retail industry, with consumers spending their money on travel, summer camps and outdoor activities, Prime Day fills a void, said Yoni Mazor, co-founder and chief growth officer of Getida, a company that audits and reconciles tens of billions of retail transactions for Amazon sellers worldwide. With retailers swimming in inventory and consumers cutting back on spending over the past year, steeper discounts could come for apparel and electronics, he added.
But sometimes it’s better to avoid the temptation of Prime Day and simply wait for a better time to buy certain products, said Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “Because they aren’t good buys for the month of July, they’re generally not categories that seem to be discounted for Prime Day or other July holidays,” she added.
This year’s Prime Day comes as U.S. consumers’ finances have been stretched thin by higher prices for everything from groceries to plane tickets. Many people are struggling to pay off credit-card debt, and student-loan payments are set to resume in October. Amazon, experts say, will have to offer deep discounts to get shoppers’ attention.
“Increasing numbers of consumers are keeping an eye on their financial budgets and spending as cautiously as possible in the current economic climate,” Nick Drewe, founder of Wethrift.com, told MarketWatch in an email. “Amazon will therefore be aware that, in order to replicate the levels of sales and profits they’ve witnessed during historical Prime Days, they will need to work extra hard to entice their shoppers with deals that they can justify spending their hard-earned money on.”
“‘Increasing numbers of consumers are keeping an eye on their financial budgets and spending as cautiously as possible in the current economic climate.’”
In 2022, three out of the top five items sold were proprietary Amazon products: the Fire TV stick, the Echo Dot and the Echo Show 5, according to Numerator’s Prime Day 2022 recap report. The other two were a protein powder and a wifi-enabled plug.
People appear to be hungry for discounts, with 49% of American consumers saying they plan to shop on Prime Day this year, according to a Numerator survey of 500 consumers. That’s up from last year, when slightly over one-third of households participated, according to Numerator. In 2021, almost 30% of consumers said they shopped on Prime Day.
Consumers’ tight finances could drive Amazon — and rival retailers — to offer better-than-expected discounts on big-ticket items such as gaming consoles, Ramhold said. The idea is “to encourage shoppers to spend on frivolous items,” she told MarketWatch in an email. But there’s no guarantee that these deals will materialize, she said, noting that it’s possible Amazon and its competitors will save significant price cuts on big-ticket products for Black Friday.
Amazon isn’t alone in the summer-sales spotlight. Best Buy
will have its Black Friday in July sale July 10-12, coinciding with Prime Day and lasting a day longer. Walmart
is also running a July sale July 10-13, and Target
announced that its Circle Week would run July 9-15 and feature deals on Dyson cordless vacuums and Barbie dolls
What not to buy on Amazon Prime Day
TVs and gaming consoles
Analysts agreed that Prime Day is a great day for Amazon’s own Fire TVs, but in general, televisions don’t tend to be the best buy. Black Friday is usually a better time to snag a deal on a TV: The November sale usually offers better prices and a much bigger selection of models, Ramhold said.
That also applies to gaming consoles. “Around Black Friday we tend to see a ton of different console bundles to suit different gaming tastes, and these are usually better than the bundles that we see the rest of the year,” Ramhold said. “Hold off until then to get a bigger bang for your buck.”
The Apple-Amazon rivalry means Amazon isn’t likely to give shoppers great deals on Apple products, because that could dissuade them from opting for Amazon tablets or Fire sticks, Drewe said.
But that didn’t stop consumers from flocking to Prime Day last year and snatching up the Apple Watch
The product was in the top 15 most purchased items for Prime Day 2022, according to the Numerator.
At the very least, shop around. A NerdWallet price-tracking report showed that Prime Day was the lowest price point for Apple Watches in 2022 — not only on Amazon, but also at Target and Walmart, which hosted their own sales around that time. Watches were priced at $279 on Prime Day, compared with $379 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Prime Day can be overwhelming. Some of the brands that offer the flashiest discounts could be unfamiliar, said Drewe. Beware of those with product names and descriptions “stuffed with keywords that have been designed to help them rank,” he added. Although attractive in price, these brands may not offer the same quality, so have a list of the brands you already trust.
Make the most of Prime Day shopping
You can get a head start with a $50 Amazon gift card, which comes with a $5 Prime Day credit for members. Prime members can also apply for the Amazon Prime Visa credit card, which comes with a $200 Amazon gift card upon approval (but charges a one-time $6.95 fee at the time of purchase).
“We’ve worked hard to offer something for everyone this Prime Day, including Amazon’s lowest prices so far this year on select items from popular brands like Bose, Theragun and Hey Dude, and we are really excited for even more great deals to come,” an Amazon spokesperson told MarketWatch in an email.
To get the most out of Prime Day and other sales events, consumers should stay focused and be clear on two things, Drewe said: What’s your budget, and which are the brands you trust? Once you figure those out, stick with them.
Always research the prices of products that you are tempted to buy to make sure websites or brands have not hiked the prices in the weeks leading up to the sale to “boast an inaccurate percentage drop,” Drewe said. A number of websites, including Camelcamelcamel.com, can track the historical prices of products.
“It’s important to think of events like Prime Day as an opportunity to secure the best deal on items you were already planning to buy, rather than merely spending for the sake of it on purchases you don’t really need out of temptation or the fear of missing out on a bargain,” Drewe added.