SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- You know a company's big when they can invent their own holiday.
Amazon's Prime Day - or Prime DAYS, more accurately - started on July 15, 2015. Touted as a day of sales and deep discounts, the shopping holiday has grown in terms of length, scale, and hype. But this year, is that hype warranted?
It depends on what you're looking for, experts say. Amazon's own brands - such as Kindle eReaders, Fire video streaming devices, Echo smart speakers, Ring and Blink home security systems, and other electronics with Alexa smart assistant integration - are seeing the biggest discounts. Other name-brand electronics, such as iRobot Roomba vacuums, Beats and Bose headphones, and Samsung smart TVs have slashed prices too.
Should you wait?
Amazon has done a fantastic job of making Prime Day into a party, building customer excitement so that they're primed -- pun intended -- to spend as soon as the sale launches.
But not everything will be at their rock-bottom price. Consumer watchdogs advise shoppers to not get carried away and to carefully comparison shop and track prices in order to ensure the best deals. After all, there are still multiple shopping holidays left on the calendar, such as Labor Day, the back-to-school season, and of course Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Amazon is also reportedly considering a second Prime Day in the fall.
Track prices to get the best deals
Websites and browser extensions like CamelCamelCamel and Keepa track prices so consumers can see how they've gone up and down over time, allowing them to plan when to scoop up products at their lowest prices. It also lets you know if prices went up right before going on sale, in order to make it look like discounts are deeper than they usually are. So, unless you need to replace your TV right away, it might be a good idea to be patient.
Do you even really need it?
Money can be tight these days, especially with inflation at 8.6%, its highest since 1981. So, it's important to note that a deal isn't a deal if you're buying something you don't actually need or want. Even if that shiny new gadget is deeply discounted, if you're spending money you hadn't planned, you can still blow your budget. There will be plenty of temptations on Prime Day, so be sure to assess your financial realities and responsibilities before letting your fingers do the shopping. Make a wish list of items you specifically want to look for, and use price trackers to research product prices.
What other retailers are having sales?
Surprisingly, not Walmart. Walmart has said they will not hold a competing shopping holiday, instead slashing prices on a larger scale (likely to reduce the excess inventory a lot of big box stores are holding these days).
Here's who's having a summer sale:
- Target Deal Days, July 11 through 13
- Best Buy's early Back to School sale
- Nordstrom Anniversary sale
- Macy's "Black Friday in July" event
- Bed, Bath, & Beyond's Beyond Big Savings event
- Kohl's early Back to School sale
Look out for scammers
Fraudsters know that Prime Day is when shoppers have their credit cards out and ready to go -- and are waiting to take advantage of folks looking for deals. Check Point, a cyber security firm, even calls it "Amazon Crime Day" because of the spike in online scams centered around Amazon.
Last year, Check Point found an 86% increase in phishing emails purporting to be about Prime Day; as of July 6 this year, Check Point has already seen a 37% increase in such emails compared to the daily average for June. It doesn't stop with just emails, though -- savvy scammers have also registered 1,900 new domains with terms related to the word "Amazon," with 9.5% of those exhibiting "either malicious or suspicious" activity.
The Better Business Bureau issued a warning to consumers to be on the lookout. Victims are being tricked into purchasing items from lookalike websites, or giving up personal information to scammers pretending to be Amazon representatives who say there's a problem with their account.
The BBB advises shoppers double-check the URL and email address of any site or message that looks suspicious. URLs, websites, and emails with misspellings, bad grammar, or no contact informations are signs they might be fake. Legitimate shopping websites almost always use the secure "https://" in front of their URLs as well. Consumers should also never give out account or financial information to an unsolicited message, and are encouraged to pay with a credit card, which usually offer more fraud protection than other payment types.
Splurging on a day of shopping can be fun and rewarding if you find the right discounts. But even though Prime Day is here, consumers should always shop smart and stay alert in order to get the best deal.
Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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