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Retailers Slashing Prices to Compete With Amazon Prime Day Deals

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things in American life — both big things, like the way we work and socialize, and small ones, like the timing of Amazon Prime Day. Amid the chaos of the pandemic, this massive sales event — rivaling Black Friday in scale and depth of price cuts – got pushed forward from its usual time in mid-July. Amazon revealed on Sept. 28, 2020, that Amazon Prime Day would take place on Oct. 13 and 14, 2020, with two full days of “epic deals” for Amazon Prime members. Instead of serving as the unofficial kickoff for back-to-school sales, the event will serve as an early lead-in to the holiday shopping season.

Because of the unusual timing, other retailers didn’t have as much time as usual to plan their own competing sales to attract a share of the hordes of online shoppers. However, major retailers like Target and Walmart quickly rose to the challenge, announcing major sales with deals to rival Amazon’s. But they’re not the only ones.

Retailers Cutting Prices on Amazon Prime Day

Depending on what you need to buy, the price on one of these rival sites could be better than what Amazon has to offer.

Walmart

Amazon’s biggest retail competitor, Walmart, was the first to jump into the Prime Day fray. The same day Amazon announced the Prime Day dates, Walmart revealed that its Big Save shopping event would run from Oct. 11 through 15 — more than twice as long as Prime Day and overlapping it completely.

Walmart is promising savings to rival Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on thousands of popular products across hundreds of categories, including toys, electronics, video games, beauty products, and clothing. Some of the top deals announced so far:

Walmart Marketplace sellers — third-party vendors who sell their products through Walmart.com — are offering discounts for the Big Save as well. Some of their announced deals include a $114.99 magnetic building blocks play set marked down to $64.99, a $150 pair of rain boots marked down to $59.99, and a $59 printed maxi shirt dress marked down to $39.99.

Also, according to Wirecutter, there’s a good chance Walmart will offer price matching on many Amazon Prime Day sale prices as soon as they go live. Thus, savvy shoppers could get the same discounts on Walmart without needing to shell out for an Amazon Prime membership. However, Walmart does not carry Amazon-branded products, so you still have to hit Prime Day for those deals.

Walmart has announced that some orders over $35 are eligible for free shipping during the Big Save event, while others are eligible for free next-day delivery or in-store pickup. However, since Walmart always offers these shipping options for many products, it’s not a special perk of the sale. So far, Walmart has not revealed any special exclusive discounts or shipping deals for members of its new Walmart+ delivery service as part of the Big Save event.

Target

Target was also quick to respond to Amazon’s news by announcing the return of its Target Deal Days sales event, which will run over both days of Prime Day. The retailer promises this year’s savings will be its “biggest yet,” spanning categories like home, electronics, toys, beauty, and essentials (everyday goods).

So far, Target has not revealed which specific products the sale will cover or how significant the discounts will be. However, Wirecutter predicts it will “[a]t the very least … match some of the better Apple deals out there.” And unlike last year, all the deals will be available throughout the entire two-day sale, so there’s no split-second timing required. Some early-bird deals will be available even before the sale officially starts.

One perk of shopping Target’s sale rather than Amazon’s is the range of delivery options. Target promises contact-free in-car delivery and order pickup (waiting for you inside the store) on “nearly every deal” of the event. And many deals are eligible for same-day delivery with Shipt. And as always, if you don’t mind waiting a while for your purchases, you can take advantage of Target’s free shipping on orders of $35 or more. Users of the Target RedCard credit card or debit card can get free shipping on orders of any size along with an extra 5% (in addition to the sale price) on all Target purchases.

Better still, Target says its Deal Days shopping event is only the kickoff to an extra-long holiday shopping season. It’s promising a stream of sales running from October through December, with “nearly 1 million more deals” in total than last year. Its Black Friday sales will begin on Nov. 1 for both in-store and online shopping, with “weeklong discounts and digital deals every day.”

The retailer is also extending its price-match guarantee beyond 14 days for the first time ever. From Nov. 1 through Dec. 21, if you buy any product advertised as a Black Friday deal and later find it for less, Target will refund the difference. And as always, it will match prices from select competitors within two weeks of purchase. With these changes, Target and other retailers hope to eliminate the traditional rush and crowding of Black Friday, which would be more dangerous than ever in the middle of a pandemic.

Other Retailers

To date, other retailers that competed with Amazon Prime Day last year — including eBay, Nordstrom, and Bed Bath & Beyond — have not announced their own sales events this year. However, Wirecutter predicts we’ll see a competing sale at Best Buy, which “has a history” of countering Prime Day deals with discounts of its own. Keep an eye on Best Buy’s sales and promotions page for announcements.

However, though there have been few announcements of official anti-Prime Day sales, several retailers have announced they’ll start their holiday sales early, as more of their customers shift their shopping habits from stores to e-commerce. According to CNN, Macy’s and Best Buy are planning to spread out the sales across the season.

Similarly, Home Depot announced on Sept. 9 that it planned to “reinvent” Black Friday for 2020. Instead of a one-day shopping spree, it’s offering lower prices all season long, from early November through December, both in stores and on its website. Discounts will cover holiday decor, home decor, appliances, smart home products, tools, and hardware. It will also provide tutorials on creating handmade gifts.

Another retailer unofficially competing with Amazon Prime Day is computer manufacturer Dell. Although Dell already held its annual Black Friday in July sale for 2020 at the usual time, it’s continuing to offer special pricing in October, particularly on laptops. For instance, the Dell XPS 13 Touch is marked down from $857 to $734, the new Dell Vostro 14 5401 has been slashed from $1,213 to $849, and the larger Dell Vostro 15 5501 has been reduced from $1,213 to a remarkable $699.

Pro tip: Make sure you add the Capital One Shopping browser extension before shopping. Capital One Shopping will automatically add any available coupon codes to your purchase.


How to Shop the Sales

With so many different sales going on, you need a strategy to find the best price for everything on your shopping list. These tips can help you turn all the rival sales to your advantage.

Shopping for One Item

If you’ve been waiting for a great sale to take the plunge on a big purchase, such as a major appliance or a smart TV, now’s your chance. Start by doing a bit of research to figure out exactly which brand and model you want — or if you’re willing to be flexible, a list of brands and models you would find acceptable. Then decide what your “action price” is — that is, how low the price would have to fall on one of these items for you to jump in and buy it immediately. Knowing this ahead of time enables you to keep a cool head as new deals pop up and avoid getting caught up in the excitement of the moment.

Once you know what you want and what you’re willing to pay for it, keep your eye on various retail sites to see when one of the products on your list goes on sale. A price-comparison app, such as BuyVia, can help. If you think you see a match, double-check the model number to make sure it’s the one you want.

What you do next depends on the nature of the sale you’ve found. If there are limited quantities or the sale is only active for a brief period, then jump on the bargain before it gets away. However, if you have time, check the prices on competing sites first to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal.

Pro Tip: You can save even more on both in-store and online purchases by using the Ibotta app. You will earn a percentage of each purchase back into your account as a cash-back reward.

Shopping for Multiple Items

If you’ve got several things on your list, that makes sale shopping a little more complicated. On one hand, shopping for multiple products improves the chances of finding a bargain on at least one of them. But on the other hand, it’s much harder to track the prices of multiple products at once, increasing the odds you’ll miss out on a bargain.

There’s also a greater risk you’ll get carried away with deal hunting and go over budget. For instance, if you find one big item slashed from $1,000 to $500, you’ve just scored a great deal. But if you find three deals like that and snap them all up, you’ve just spent $1,500, which could be more than you can really afford.

To avoid these problems, prioritize your list. Figure out which goods are the most critical to buy during the sale, and focus on those specific products as you shop so you won’t miss a deal. Some price-comparison apps can help you by setting up alerts so you learn about deals as soon as they pop up.

Also, set a total budget for your spending during the sales. Give yourself a set dollar amount to spend on all your bargains combined. Then as you shop, keep a running tally, subtracting what you’ve already spent from your total so you know how much more you can afford to spend. That way, you won’t have any unpleasant surprises when your next credit card bill arrives.


Final Word

Don’t let yourself get carried away. With so many stores offering so many bargains, it’s easy to lose your head and start throwing deals into your virtual cart willy-nilly, whether you actually need them or not. This risk is especially high if you’ve ever experienced a bout of compulsive spending.

To keep your bargain-grabbing impulses in check, force yourself to slow down and think rationally. Remember that just because some Prime Day deals are unbeatable, that doesn’t mean all of them are. Stick closely to your shopping list, and avoid impulse buys. And always keep your budget in mind as you shop.

What are you planning to buy during this year’s Prime Day sales? Which sites do you expect to shop?

Amy Livingston
Amy Livingston is a freelance writer who can actually answer yes to the question, "And from that you make a living?" She has written about personal finance and shopping strategies for a variety of publications, including ConsumerSearch.com, ShopSmart.com, and the Dollar Stretcher newsletter. She also maintains a personal blog, Ecofrugal Living, on ways to save money and live green at the same time.

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