For deal hunters looking for Black Friday bargains in July, Tuesday is likely as close as it gets. Amazon's third Prime Day officially starts Tuesday, but this year the 30-hour event actually launched Monday at 8 p.m. Central time.
Prime members who want to see all the deals can go to www.Amazon.com/primeday at the top of every hour for live new deals. Those who download the Amazon app can see deals 24 hours in advance of them going live.
Owners of Amazon Echo (Alexa), who are also Prime members, had access to early deals starting at 6 p.m. Monday, but most were expected to be on Echo products, Amazon Tap, Fire TV and compatible Fire tablets. Ask "Alexa, what are your Prime Day deals?"
Some sites will be posting their best-vetted deals, including www.bestblackfriday.com and www.wirecutter.com. Last year Wirecutter found fewer than 1 percent of offerings last year were great deals. It suggests that the best bargains, lightning deals, usually only last for a few hours.
"This Prime Day, our Prime members will find hundreds of thousands of deals on everything they're into — from beauty fans to bookworms and gamers to gardeners," said Greg Greeley, vice president of Amazon Prime in a statement.
Sales during this year's Prime Day are expected to easily top last year's sales that were estimated to be about $600 million.
Consumers will want to check prices on items they planned to buy before the sale started and see if they are discounted further. Otherwise, they may end up spending money on deals they didn't need. RetailMeNot shopping expert Sara Skirboll suggests making a list before the sale starts, including current prices. "This will save you money because you won't be aimlessly scrolling through products you might not otherwise need," she said.
ConsumerWatchdog.org cautions deal hunters to check Amazon's "was" price with comparison sites. It alleges that "was" prices, along with "before-sale" prices and "list" prices, continue to deceive consumers into thinking that they are getting a bigger bargain than they actually are.
The Santa Monica, Calif.-based nonprofit taxpayer and consumer advocacy group looked at hundreds of products sold by Amazon in June and found nearly four in 10 listings showing fictitious discounts.
Amazon said it believes the findings by Watchdog are "deeply flawed…We validate the reference prices provided by manufacturers, vendors and sellers against actual prices recently found across Amazon and other retailers."
This year Amazon is pledging that prices during the event will be the lowest that the site has offered it in the last 12 months. According to Dealnews.com, a shopping comparison website, a slim majority of respondents to their survey (51 percent) think Prime Day is worth it, while 49 percent do not. However, only 10 percent of those surveyed said they don't shop Prime Day. Respondents said they would shop for electronics (26 percent) and home goods (13 percent).
Brent Shelton at FatWallet.com said his team expects good savings on health and beauty items (supplements, vitamins, lotions, natural products), household items (bulk toilet paper, garbage bags, food storage), media (books, movies and music, especially via Prime subscriptions and services), and collectibles (toys and sports).
Amazon released a sampling of deals, including a 50 percent savings on Amazon Echo ($90), "big" but undisclosed savings on Game of Thrones Blu-ray seasons 1-6, and a 55-inch "premium brand" 4K smart LED TV for $600.
New Prime customers can get $10 off their next order using promotional code 10PRIMEDAY. They can also take advantage of the deals with a 30-day free-trial membership for 30 days and choose to cancel before the end of the trial period. Start a free trial of Amazon Prime at amazon.com/prime.
Prime offers unlimited free shipping within two days on more than 50 million items, Prime FREE One-Day Shipping and Prime FREE Same-Day Delivery in more than 5,000 cities and towns, and two-hour delivery with Prime Now in more than 30 major cities. Prime costs $100 a year. Students can get a six-month free trial plus 50 percent off if they have .edu e-mail address.
Consumers will want to check companies that will match Amazon's prices, such as Best Buy or Target. Also check for Amazon-type deals of their own at major retailers such as Best Buy, J.C. Penney's, Kohl's, Macy's, Toys 'R' Us, Sears and eBay, where no membership is required. On Monday, Bestbuy.com was rolling out deals such as the iPad Pro 9.7-inch for $450, compared to Amazon's price of $509. The iRobot Roomba 877 is now $400 at Bestbuy.com and $480 at Amazon. Toysrus.com and Babiesrus.com are offering a storewide 20 percent discount, including sale and clearance from until 5 a.m. Wednesday (Central time).
Last year's Prime Day was the best sales day in Amazon's history. It typically outperforms Cyber Monday.