Amazon Prime Day (or days) 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 popular annual promotion, which last year caused Amazon’s website to crash, will take place over 48 hours on July 15 and July 16. The event will features sales on thousands of items sold through the online retailer and will even include a live concert broadcast through Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service featuring Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa.
Last year, the average shopper was forecast to spend $167 during the event, including $70 on back-to-school items, according to discount website RetailMeNot.
Amazon AMZN, +0.36% has already announced significant discounts on items like binders, backpacks and lunch boxes, as the Prime Day sales event has become the unofficial kickoff to the back-to-school shopping season. (Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.)
Historically, the steepest Prime Day discounts are found on Amazon’s own devices such as the Echo smart home assistants and Kindle tablets — and that’s true again this year. Major savings can also be found on subscription services from Amazon, including Audible.
For instance, the Fire TV Recast device was on sale for $129.99 at the start of Prime Day, which is $100 off its regular price. Additionally, the Echo Input smart speaker will cost buyers only $14.99 on Prime Day, which is $20 off its usual retail price.
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. Retailers like Target TGT, -0.87% and Walmart WMT, +0.10% have planned their traditional July sales events to coincide with Amazon’s bonanza. And in some cases, like with Macy’s M, +0.18% , these deals match what consumers will find later in the year, said Kristin Cook, managing editor at savings website BensBargains.com.
But not all items are worth buying during Amazon Prime Day. Here are some products consumer should avoid on Prime Day:
Deals on video game consoles, such as the latest Xbox MSFT, -0.04% or the Nintendo Switch, abound on Prime Day. For instance, sales website Offers.com JCOM, -0.25% expects that Amazon will offer a Nintendo Switch bundle for $275, which represents a $75 discount. Deals like that will in many cases match the sales prices that consumers will find on these same items come holiday shopping season — but there’s a catch.
During the holiday shopping season, retailers will often sweeten the deals on gaming consoles by throwing in gift cards or free games. On Cyber Monday last year, GameStop GME, -3.16% shoppers could get the Nintendo Switch plus a $50 gift card for $300.
And Walmart offered a Black Friday bundle for the Xbox One that included the game Minecraft (along with the in-game Minecoin currency) and a month’s subscription to Xbox game pass for just $199. “Gaming consoles are very popular holiday gifts,” said Kristin McGrath, editor and shopping expert at Offers.com. “Those are going to be a smarter buy around the holidays and Cyber Monday.”
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.
Some of Prime Day’s best deals are on Amazon devices. It’s no surprise then that devices from competitors like Apple and Microsoft won’t go on discount. “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.
When it comes to Apple devices, the best time to find discounts is after September. That’s historically when the electronics giant rolls out the newest versions of its devices, meaning that older models will go on sale, McGrath said. From there, the sales will only get better as the holiday season ramps up.
While Amazon has sought to court parents and college students ahead of this year’s sales event by broadcasting discounts on items ranging from dorm room furniture to permanent markets, July is too early to be doing your back-to-school shopping if savings are a priority.
“It might be more advantageous to wait until later in the summer,” McGrath said. Retailers will boost sales as the start of school nears to ensure that they don’t have excess inventory on hand. Plus, many states run sales tax-free weekends for school supplies, which can wind up being a better deal than the individual discounts Amazon will offer on items during Prime Day.
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, +0.90%
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.
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.
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.
This story was updated on July 15, 2019.