As more retailers look to steal Amazon’s thunder, it’s getting harder for consumers to spot the best deals.
More than half of consumers (52%) will put off making a purchase in anticipation of deals on Amazon Prime Day
but those deals are getting harder to spot. The popularity of Amazon Prime Day — the annual sales event that will take place this year on July 15 and 16 — has spurred other retailers to seek out a piece of the action.
Read more: What NOT to buy on Amazon Prime Day
Target, Kohl’s and Best Buy are all holding sales on July 15 and 16; Walmart’s will start on July 14 and run through July 17.
As part of the Kohl’s promotion, consumers can earn $10 in “Kohl’s Cash” for every $50 they spend, on top of the deals being offered such as up to 60% off swimwear.
‘A lot of retailers are offering almost identical prices.’
Some of Walmart’s best deals include the HP 15.6” HD Touch Display Laptop for $429
($150 off) and the Dyson Multifloor Bagless Upright Vacuum for $154 ($125 below list). Other Walmart-owned e-commerce sites, including Bonobos, Hayneedle.com, and Shoes.com will be offering sales of up to 75% their items.
One of the deals Amazon has heavily promoted — Toshiba’s 43-inch 4K Fire TV
for just $200 — is actually a third-party deal being offered by Best Buy, so you can get the same deal directly from Best Buy.
Target’s sale will include discounts up to 50% off in various categories including home, apparel and toys.
All this competition benefits the consumer, said Kristin McGrath, shopping expert and editor for Offers.com and BlackFriday.com
because retailers will work hard to price-match each other, particularly as Amazon reveals its own pricing as Prime Day unfolds.
But while consumers benefit in the form of lower prices, it can become harder to spot which deal is the best. “A lot of retailers are offering almost identical prices,” McGrath said. “One retailer might give itself a bit of an edge by matching Amazon’s price and then offering a promo code or attaching a gift card to it.”
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Here’s what consumers need to know about scoring the best deals during these sales events:
Where Amazon isn’t the cheapest
There are some categories of products where stores like Walmart and Target will likely offer better deals.
One is a category that Amazon is heavily promoting ahead of Prime Day: School and dorm-room supplies. While Amazon is offering discounts (up to 30%) on thousands of items, other retailers instead typically offer blanket discounts for the entire category. Office Depot
for instance, is offering 20% all regular-priced office and school supplies, though some exclusions apply.
“If you’re looking for dorm-room furniture and school supplies, those category-wide flat-percent discounts that other retailers are offering are going to be more competitive,” McGrath said. Consumers may also want to wait altogether on purchasing these items, as they are typically discounted more heavily later in the summer.
Here are two other categories where other retailers will likely beat Amazon’s prices:
Summer apparel: Amazon’s own line of bikini separates currently starts at $8 per piece. That’s cheaper than Target, where bathing-suit separates start at $12, but more expensive than Walmart where they start at $5. Moreover, card-holders at other retailers can see additional savings. Kohl’s Charge customers receive additional discounts ranging from 15% to 30% during its July sales event. Plus other retailers, like Kohl’s, have coupons that consumers can stack on top of the discounts to fetch even greater savings on these items. Discounted bathing-suit separates start at $10 at Kohl’s — but when you factor in the extra 30% off for Kohl’s card-holders the price is likely to drop below Amazon’s price.
Home goods: Walmart and Target typically offer the best deals on items like home furnishings and décor, said Janet Alvarez, a personal-finance expert at Wise Bread. Shoppers also should look out for other retailers that are offering flash sales over the next week. Macy’s, for instance, ran a limited-time sale on Friday offering 60% dinnerware and glassware from Hotel Collection, Martha Stewart and other brands.
Smartphones: For most of the year, Amazon’s prices on unlocked, name-brand smartphones can be very competitive. That’s not the case during Prime Day though, McGrath said. At Walmart, consumers can get a bundle that includes an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S9
Echo Spot speaker and Samsung Smart Home system for $720, Offers.com found. Comparatively, Amazon is expected to offer a Galaxy S10 with a $100 gift card for $800.
How retailers’ prices compare on big-ticket items
Amazon’s prices are most competitive on popular, big-ticket items, according to an analysis of these products from Offers. It projects that Amazon will offer a 50-inch Samsung 4K high-definition television for under $300. Most other retailers are selling that same item for around $330. The chart below shows some of the products where Amazon’s pricing will likely be the cheapest.
Notably, Amazon won’t necessarily offer better prices on some of its own devices, including the Echo line of smart speakers. Offers.com anticipates the third generation Echo Dot will cost the same at Amazon, Target and Best Buy.
And if brand isn’t a major concern for shoppers, other retailers almost certainly will offer better pricing on items like laptops. While shoppers will be able to find 11-inch laptops for $150 on Amazon, Dell’s
laptop deals start at $129.
A game plan for scoring the best deals
Here are some tips from shopping experts to identify which deals are steals and which are duds.
Come in with a list: The easiest way to avoid falling for deals that are, indeed, too good to be true is to pay attention only to sales on items you need, Alvarez said. Identify the items you want to shop for and determine what their pre-sale prices are. If you do this, you’ll be better prepared to scoop up the best deal — especially when it comes to the extremely limited “flash” or “lightning” sales some stores offer during sales.
‘Think about whether you have the comfort and have the amount of time required to send an item back.’
Decide whether you prefer shopping in person: There are pros and cons to shopping in-person versus online. Brick-and-mortar stores will have more limited inventory and may not adjust sales prices as quickly as retailers do online. However, there’s an advantage to seeing and touching something before buying. Plus, returning online purchases can be a hassle. “Think about whether you have the comfort and have the amount of time required to send an item back,” Alvarez said.
Keep the cost of shipping in mind: When comparing Amazon to other companies, be sure to read the fine print of their shipping policies. While companies like Walmart and Target have ramped up their next-day shipping policies to compete with Amazon, you often need to have spent a certain amount to get free shipping. And Prime Day deals are only available to members of Amazon’s Prime program, which currently costs $119.99 a year, so don’t forget to factor that in for the long run. (You can also access Prime Day deals by using a 30-day free trial.)
Take advantage of price-comparison tools: There are multiple tools and apps out there that compares prices across retailers. Capital One
acquired the online shopping tool Wikibuy in 2018, which is completely free for the bank’s customers. Wikibuy can be used as a standalone app or as an internet browser extension. Other tools include the Google Shopping
PriceGrabber and the Honey browser extension. Additionally, sites like CamelCamelCamel and The Tracktor compare prices historically for Amazon, showing whether an item is cheaper on Prime Day versus other times of the year.