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Everything You Need to Know About Amazon Prime Day 2020

Postponed by the pandemic, the big sale returns Oct. 13 and 14

close up of a hand holding a mobile phone that says prime day against a background of an Amazon website screen shot

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En español | If you've been counting down the days to Amazon's postponed Prime Day 2020, you're not alone: Two-thirds of U.S. consumers plan to make a purchase during the e-commerce giant's annual sales extravaganza, according to a survey by coupon marketplace RetailMeNot.

After weeks of speculation and rumor, the wait for a date is over. Amazon announced Monday that its biggest annual event will take place on Oct. 13 and 14. Typically held in July but delayed this year by the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Day features discounts of up to half off on electronics, home goods and many other products.

The newly revealed dates are about the latest Amazon could have held Prime Day without butting into big brands’ preparations for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, says Trae Bodge, who tracks retailers’ sale plans and regularly rounds up top deals on her smart-shopping site True Trae.

Given its proximity this year to the mega-shopping days following Thanksgiving, "it’s very likely that the Prime Day prices will be quite similar to what we’ll see on Black Friday," says Matt Wehner, a shopping expert at holiday retail guide BestBlackFriday.com

Here's a little Prime Day history, and some expert advice on what to expect from the big sale.

What is Prime Day?

Amazon inaugurated Prime Day on July 15, 2015, as a midsummer shopping holiday offering deep discounts on a wide range of products to Prime members, who pay $12.99 a month or $119 a year for free two-day (or sooner) shipping on many products, Prime Video streaming and other benefits.

Since then, Prime Day has grown into Prime Days, with last year's model being the first to run for 48 hours. Amazon reported that shoppers in 18 countries purchased more than 175 million items last year. Total sales exceeded $7.1 billion, according to e-commerce research firm DigitalCommerce360.

If you're not a Prime member, you don't get the discounts, but Amazon does offer a free 30-day trial membership. As long you time the trial period to include Prime Day, you can sample the sales without necessarily committing to the membership fee.

What happened this year?

Amazon announced in July that Prime Day 2020 would take place “later than usual” due to the coronavirus pandemic. Until Monday's announcement, the company had said only that the sale would take place in the 4th quarter of the year.

The explosion of online shopping in the early stages of the outbreak had significant knock-on effects for Amazon, stretching its warehouse capacity and slowing delivery times for most goods as it prioritized orders of in-demand household staples and medical supplies.

"They seem to have resolved their supply-chain issues and their shipping issues, so it makes sense to me that they waited,” Bodge says. “I think it would have been an unpleasant experience for shoppers had they tried to do this a couple of months ago."


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Where are the best Prime Day deals?

Amazon typically goes all out on its own brands, especially electronics like Echo smart speakers, Kindle tablets, Fire TVs and Ring security systems. “Amazon slashes prices aggressively on these devices,” Wehner says. “Look for between 30 percent and 50 percent off."

Across brands, the average Prime Day discount on electronics last year was 22 percent, according to RetailMeNot (which has its own seasonal savings event, Cash Back Day, on Nov. 5-6).

"We can safely assume we shall see markdowns in smart home devices and lighting as well as TVs and laptops,” says Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot. She also expects top deals on kitchen appliances, décor and other home goods.

If you are gunning for gadgets, don't wait too long. Amazon “may drop some of the most impressive [deals] early on day one to make headlines,” Wehner says. “There's also a chance that items could sell out early. So shoppers should be ready to go on day one rather than hold out for better on day two."

Bodge recommends keeping an eye on beauty products (particularly skin care), toys and items from AmazonBasics, the company's house brand for tech accessories and household goods, which she says get “huge, aggressive discounting” on Prime Day.

One wrinkle this year might be more big buys from small businesses. Amazon has earmarked $100 million to promote small firms during Prime Day and through the holiday season.

How can I maximize my savings?

Bodge's No. 1 Prime Day hack: “Download at least one browser extension.” Free add-ons from shopping sites like CouponCabin, Slickdeals and RetailMeNot provide pop-up notifications of coupons and cash-back offers as you browse Amazon (and other retail sites), and even alert you if there's a better price on an item elsewhere.

"I have four or five browser extensions going at the same time, so it's a little bit annoying to shop on my computer,” she says, laughing. “But I save a lot of money that way."

Those cash-back offers can add up: Last year, Prime Day shoppers could get 8 percent to 14 percent back on select electronics, clothes, shoes, accessories, and home, garden and grooming products, according to RetailMeNot.

Skirboll's tips include downloading the Amazon app, which delivers advance notice of Prime Day deals and alerts when products you're shopping for go on sale. Shoppers with an Alexa can also get early access to select deals by asking their device.

Prime members who shop at Amazon-owned grocery chain Whole Foods can typically earn vouchers for Prime Day purchases, an “offer that happens like clockwork every year,” Wehner says. “That can be a good way to get a little extra cash to spend on Prime Day.”

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