Amazon Prime Day is just around the corner — and getting longer. The shopping extravaganza is set to last 48 hours this time, up from 36 hours last summer.
And if 2018 is any guide, it will be another smashing success for the giant online retailer. Last year Amazon said it sold 100 million products worldwide, more than any previous Prime Day and surpassing even Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon made more than $1 billion in sales during the event, it said.
But is Prime Day as good a deal for consumers as it is for retailers? That depends on what you buy and how you shop.
Here’s what you should know:
Amazon Prime Day 2019 kicks off on July 15 at midnight PT (3 a.m. ET) and will last for 48 hours.
You need to be a Prime member to join the fun. But don’t worry, everyone is welcome to this party: eligible customers can sign up for a free 30-day trial subscription, which includes free delivery and access to Prime Video, Prime Music and unlimited photo storage on Amazon Photos. Needless to say, Amazon hopes that, once you’ve tried Prime, you’ll be hooked. A Prime membership normally costs $7.99 plus tax per month or $79 plus tax per year.
A note for Quebec residents: instead of a free trial for the uninitiated in the province, Amazon is offering two months of Prime at the price of one.
How to shop
Some deals — called lightning deals — are only available for a limited period of time. Here are a few ways to keep a close eye on them:
- Amazon.ca/primeday: The live deals are streamed on this page.
- The Amazon app: Perhaps the best way to monitor upcoming deals is to download the Amazon app. Go to settings, select notifications and turn on “Personalized Notifications.”
- Amazon assistant: This is a browser plugin that sends you push notifications about new and upcoming deals. New customers who sign up for it will get a $5 discount on their next order of $25 or more.
- Alexa: Amazon’s digital assistant will let you know about available bargains. You’ll get access to exclusive discounts and she’ll read out new deals as they become available. Amazon is giving out $5 discounts for those who sign on to Alexa for the first time.
WATCH: Getting the best deals online for Amazon Prime Day
How to make sure you’re really getting a deal
Fact-check your Amazon deal: Not all deals are as good as they seem. You can use sites likes CamelCamelCamel and The Tracktor to trace the price history of products sold through Amazon. If something you’re interested in was significantly cheaper around Black Friday of last year, you’re probably better off waiting until this year’s pre-Christmas shopping frenzy. You can also get these trackers as browser plug-ins, which will show you the product’s price history in real time as you browse on Amazon.
Checking a product’s price history makes sense for two reasons. First, Prime Day deals aren’t always the best deals of the year. If something you’re looking at has a history of having steeper discounts around the Black Friday weekend, you’re probably better off waiting until then.
Second, you’ll want to compare the discounted price you’re getting on Prime Day with the product’s average price on Amazon. That will give you a better sense of the deal you’re actually getting rather than looking at the crossed-out price you’ll see next to the discounted price.
Fact-check product reviews:
If you’re wondering about the quality of a product, you can run specific Amazon reviews through sites like Fakespot that claim to spot fakes.
Mistakes to avoid
- TVs. “Unless you get a truly incredible Prime Day price on a 2019 television, buying a 2018 TV on sale will get you the better value,” writes Wirecutter, a product review website owned by the New York Times Company. The best TV deals generally come out on Black Friday, they add.
- Laptops and video game consoles. Ditto on laptops and video games. You’re likely to find better deals on portable computers during back-to-school sales, while gamers are likely better off waiting until Black Friday, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Make a list
You’re not really getting a deal if you’re buying stuff you don’t need. It’s easy to get click-happy on Prime Day and fill your cart with things you’ll later regret, especially when you’re dealing with Amazon’s lightning deals, which end as soon as a certain product is sold out.
The best way to resist impulse buys is to make a list of what you want to buy before Prime Day starts and stick to it.
Forgetting to cancel your trial Prime membership
If you don’t need an Amazon Prime membership, don’t forget to cancel your trial run. Set yourself an automatic reminder to end the free trial just before the 30-day period is over.
What Amazon’s competitors are doing
Other retailers are trying to boost their own summer sales by capitalizing on the success of Amazon’s Prime Day.
eBay is holding its own summer shopping fest from July 8 to July 22 with thousands of products it says are selling for up to 70 per cent off their regular retail price.
Target is running “Deal Days” on July 15 and 16, promising big discounts on home, clothing and appliances, among other products. Of course, Canadians will have to factor in the exchange rate as well as shipping and customs costs. Luckily, Target’s international website does the math for you, showing a final all-in-one price in Canadian dollars. Still, not everything you see on the site can be shipped across the border.