By Jacob Passy
Prime Day has turned into one of the biggest shopping events of the year -- but not all of the bargains available this week are created equal.
Amazon's Prime Day sales event is here, and with discounts galore, Americans are expected to spend billions of dollars as they get a jumpstart on their holiday shopping.
Prime Day will run Oct. 13 through Oct. 14 (). It's a change from previous years when the sales event typically occurred in July -- Amazon (AMZN) delayed Prime Day this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. All told, forecasts suggest ( ) people will spend up to $10 billion on Amazon this week.
Because of the timing of Prime Day this year, shoppers are expected to buy items that make popular holiday gifts. As in years past, items such as Amazon's Echo Dot will be on deep discount this week -- and perhaps even cheaper than they'll be in a few short weeks during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The discounts won't be limited to high-priced items. Shoppers can also expect to see prices reduced on Amazon-brand essentials, including batteries and pantry items. Some of the discounts may also play into people's newfound interests thanks to be cooped up at home during the pandemic.
"We might also see some superior home deals, because Amazon may try to play into the fact that lots of people are redecorating and remodeling the homes they've been spending so much time in," said Matt Wehner, shopping expert at BestBlackFriday.com (/).
But some of this week's discounts will prove to be better than others. Here's what shoppers should avoid purchasing during Prime Day this year:
Prime Day is generally the best time of year to buy electronics produced by Amazon or one of its subsidiaries. But even when it comes to these items, there's a strategy.
"Amazon is known for its device bundled deals on Prime Day," Wehner said. Smart shoppers could use these deals to make quicker work of their holiday shopping lists, he added.
"You might find a Fire TV Stick or Echo Dot thrown in with a pricier item, such as a Ring Video Doorbell. That gives you a small giftable item for 'free,'" Wehner said. "So, if the larger item was on your list anyway, you can save the smaller item to give to someone else for the holidays."
The timing of Prime Day this year comes at a somewhat odd interval in relation to the release schedules for popular electronics, including smartphones. "Many tech items will be launching their next gen models in a few weeks," said shopping expert (/) Trae Bodge.
So far, Amazon has yet to advertise any notable smartphone deals, said Katie Roberts, consumer analyst with DealNews.com (/). "This could be a case where Black Friday will win out," she told MarketWatch.
Products that have grown in popularity -- and sold out -- as a result of pandemic won't see major bargains during this week's sales events. "Traditionally, Prime Day features deals on items Amazon and sellers are trying to offload," Wehner said. "So discounts on high-demand items will likely be minimal."
In cases where there might be deal, inventory will likely be limited. These discounts are likely to come in the form of lightning deals, which are only available for a short period of time while supplies last, Wehner said.
On the other hand, items that were hard to come by this summer such as above-ground pools may be easier to find on discount during Prime Day now that summer is over, Bodge said.
For many large items, now is not the time to buy. "There's really no point in purchasing a TV before November," Roberts said. "It's just too early to buy a TV."
TVs historically see better discounts around Black Friday. But even then, those doorbuster deals are typically on lower-rated models. Instead, the best deals often come around the New Year so households can pick up a new set in time for the Super Bowl.
But the discounts aren't the only reason to reconsider shopping online for a big ticket purchase.
"Instead, consider the Buy Online, Pick Up Curbside option which will save you any potential extra shipping fees for heavy items," said Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot (/).
New toys, video games and apparel may all be on the top of kids' and teens' holiday wish lists -- but now is not the time to buy them.
Toy deals get better further into the holiday shopping season, said Kristin Cook, managing editor at BensBargains.com (/). "Target will usually run an extra 25% off toy coupon in early November and Amazon is known to price-match, often leading to the best toy deals of the season," Cook said.
Of course, waiting runs the risk of missing out, Skirboll cautioned. Especially popular toys could sell out early this year, so parents should consider that when planning out their holiday purchases.
As for clothing, the new styles are just hitting the racks, so December and January will be better times to shop, Cook added.
Prime Day is expected to be the top shopping day during the last three months of 2020 -- even more popular than Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Skirboll said. And the good news for shoppers (especially those who haven't paid $100 for a Prime membership () ) is that most other retailers have gotten in on the act.
Experts surveyed by MarketWatch noted that a wide range of popular retailers are running sales promotions to compete with Amazon, with Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT), Best Buy (BBY), Macy's (M) and Bloomingdale's among them. "Last year, RetailMeNot found over 300 retailers got in on the Prime Day action, and we expect to see the same or more in terms of participation this year," Skirboll said.
Different retailers may feature lower prices on items than Amazon. Shoppers should also consider factors like the cost of shipping when shopping this week. Plus, other discounts that can sometimes be tacked on with other retailers that can't be used with Amazon.
"Bloomingdale's is offering their own sales over Prime Day, and you can get 10.1% cash back plus extra discounts by shopping through CouponCabin.com," Bodge noted. Besides CouponCabin.com (/), other sites where shoppers can get additional cashback or discounts for shopping online include Swagbucks ( Rakuten ( /) (formerly known as Ebates.)
-Jacob Passy; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 14, 2020 09:08 ET (13:08 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.