What NOT to buy on Amazon Prime Day
Amazon Prime Day is highly anticipated for some online shoppers — but others might be better off waiting until the sounds of jingle bells are in the air to hunt for bargains.
The site’s promotion is set to take place on July 16 and 17. This year, the average shopper is expected to spend $167 during the event, including $70 on back-to-school items, according to discount website RetailMeNot.
Amazon AMZN, +0.65% has already announced significant discounts on back-to-school items like binders, backpacks and lunch boxes. This year, Prime members will receive some brick-and-mortar deals when they shop at Whole Foods, the grocery chain that Amazon acquired in 2017. (Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.)
Otherwise, the steepest Prime Day discounts will be on Amazon’s own devices, including the Echo smart home assistants, Kindle tablets and Fire TV devices. Major savings can also be found on subscription services from Amazon, including Audible. For instance, the Echo Show is already on sale for $129.99 through the start of Prime Day, which is $100 off its regular price.
Read more: Is Amazon Prime worth its new $119 price tag?
Prime Day competes with other major sales events. This year, 70% of sales on Prime Day are expected to be better than those on Black Friday, said Phillip Dengler, co-owner of savings website BestBlackFriday.com. Dengler based this prediction on comparisons between Prime Day and Black Friday sales on a few hundred items over the past few years.
But not all items are worth buying during this event. Amazon’s success with Prime Day has inspired more retailers to begin offering “Black Friday in July” or other similar promotions this time of year. In some cases, like with Macy’s M, +1.41% these deals match what consumers will find later in the year, said Kristin Cook, managing editor at savings website BensBargains.com.
Here are some products consumer should avoid on Prime Day:
Deals on video game consoles, such as the latest Xbox MSFT, -0.07% or the Nintendo Switch 7974, +1.84% will abound on Prime Day. And those deals will in many cases match the sales that consumers will find on these same items come holiday shopping season — but there’s a catch. “Target and Walmart will have those same prices, but will also give you a free gift card,” Dengler said.
On Black Friday last year, Target TGT, +1.90% shoppers could get the Xbox One for just $190 and received a $25 gift card as part of the deal, according to Forbes. GameStop GME, +2.32% and Kohl’s KSS, +1.92% also offered gift cards to shoppers who bought the Sony PlayStation 4 SNE, +1.73%
The hottest toys
Much like with video games, consumers are better off waiting to shop for toys. But in this case, Black Friday and Cyber Monday won’t be much better for in terms of getting savings on presents for your little ones. Instead, Dengler recommends buying toys in December in the weeks leading up to Christmas when lots of toys are still in stock at very low prices.
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Some of Prime Day’s best deals are on Amazon devices. It’s no surprise then that devices from competitors like Apple AAPL, +0.27% and Microsoft won’t go on sale. “Some of the biggest deals of the year from the retail industry on things like consumer electronics are still concentrated on Black Friday,” said Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot.
The clothing on sale during Prime Day will be summer apparel. But overall, consumers are better off waiting until the end of the season to buy warm weather clothes on clearance. Those sales, Dengler said, will easily rival whatever savings a consumer could find on Prime Day.
The one exception to this could be clothing from Amazon’s private-label brands, such as Lark and Ro or Mae. In keeping with the guiding principle that Amazon-exclusive items will see the biggest discounts, consumers could find some impressive savings on these items.
Also see: The latest victims of the Amazon effect: The Kardashians
If shoppers are aiming to get a TV at the lowest price possible, Prime Day may not be the right day. Instead, choose doorbuster deals on Black Friday at retailers like Target or Best Buy BBY, +1.54%
There’s a catch: TVs that go on sale during Black Friday are typically not the best brands, nor are they the most up-to-date models. If brand recognition is more important than discounts, some Prime Day deals could win out, Dengler said. Otherwise, wait until January and February when retailers discount them ahead of the Super Bowl or March and April the newest models will be rolled out, according to NerdWallet.
Third party sales
Prime Day can be overwhelming. Many of these “lightning deals” are offered by third-party sellers, not Amazon itself. And they have the ability to increase the item’s price in the days and weeks before Prime Day, Cook said. (Amazon can also add its own discount to the prices of third-party sellers’ items and it charges a fee to these third-party retailers.)
Even if a deal looks good, use a price comparison tool such as Camelcamelcamel or The Tracktor to check how the sale compares to the long-term average price. “Unless it’s a brand you’ve heard of, I’d suggest skipping it,” Cook said.
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Jacob Passy is a personal-finance reporter for MarketWatch and is based in New York.
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