After a few months of delays because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year's Amazon Prime Day is now set for Oct. 13 and 14, just six weeks before Black Friday. The timing will most likely set off a cascade of sales that will last through December, making it even more confusing when you're trying to determine what's truly a good value for your money as we all try to shore up our emergency savings.
Sale events throw a lot at you, which is why it's important to shop strategically. Online retailers have embraced the gamification of the shopping experience with things like countdown clocks and Lightning Deals. You need to play to win — be patient, make use of sites that identify great values for you and be wary of the pitfalls you may face — so you can emerge from Prime Day feeling victorious instead of exploring return policies.
Old, cheap TVs
Prime Day has historically been full to bursting with television deals, and it's almost certain that we'll see them again this year. Our expert guide writers have gotten their hands on 2020 television models and have very positive initial impressions. With Prime Day situated toward the end of the year, our recommendation is to pass on deals on TVs from 2019 and earlier. While big price drops might be enticing, they're often on old or no-name TVs, and you'll ultimately be disappointed in the quality. Stick to sales on 2020 models.
Last-gen gaming consoles
Video game consoles are a similar case. Because of the impending release of the Xbox Series X (Nov. 10) and the PlayStation 5 (Nov. 12), you'll most likely see the best pricing ever for what are now last-gen consoles in the PS4 and Xbox One X. But regardless of price, Wirecutter almost certainly won't continue to recommend these older options. You might be able to save on older console accessories and games during Prime Day if you already own the PS4 or One X and plan on sticking with it for a while, but we recommend not purchasing the actual consoles. Wait for the new ones. That said, when it comes to Apple products, it might be worth it to stick to previous versions, like the Apple Watch Series 5 or 2018 iPad Pro, which offer great value when the price is right.
Like last year, we expect to see Prime Day-exclusive bundle deals from Amazon and other stores, offering add-ons like small smart speakers, smart plugs, gift cards and more. Don't be taken in by a four-item bundle if you'll actually use only two pieces of it. The value is a mirage unless you're willing to go to the trouble of selling the extra goodies you've received. Additionally, bundled gift cards are worthwhile only if you like the retailer they're from or they're general-use, like a Visa Gift card.
Holding out for 'better' Black Friday deals
Coronavirus shipping delays are real — why chance it? Yes, it's possible that you'll find a slightly better discount if you wait until Black Friday, but this year, you'll be taking a chance that the product will be out of stock. Or if you do find it, it might not be delivered to you on time. If you see what you want at the price you want, like kitchen gear you'll use on Thanksgiving or smart home devices that help you communicate with family, better to snap it up while you can. Is it worth saving 5 percent more to risk not getting it at all?
Only focusing on Amazon
It's Amazon Prime Day, so you can expect Amazon to offer the most deals. Over all, Amazon is likely to offer the best deals, too, but that doesn't mean you should focus all your attention on the online retail giant's sale offerings. More major retailers than ever before are likely to follow Amazon's lead and offer sales of their own throughout October. Many will match Amazon deal pricing. Some, like Walmart and Best Buy, are likely to offer sales Amazon won't, like deals on Google smart devices. Others, like Target, will offer additional perks, like an extra 5 percent discount with RedCard. That means that if you see a great deal at Target and you're a RedCard member, you can get an additional 5 percent off that deal price. You can take advantage of promotions like this at multiple retailers.