Amazon’s Prime Day sparks a summer sales fury and steep competition with rivals Walmart and Best Buy. Reporter Hadley Malcolm tells us what to expect during this summer Black Friday sale. Robert Deutsch & Michael Monday, USA TODAY

Could a sleepy, summer weekday ignite into a better-than-Black-Friday online shopping showdown?

Seems kind of wacky, but then again some people now shop on Thanksgiving, too.

We’ll see what happens. Dyed-in-plastic bargain hunters certainly will browse the discounts and markdowns on Amazon Prime Day, a one-day-only shopping event that is hyping “more deals than Black Friday.”

Yes, we’re talking about yet another made-up shopping holiday, much like Sweetest Day or Cyber Monday or even Black Friday itself.

And like on similar “holidays,” other big names are jumping into the competition for clicks and cash.

Amazon (AMZN) is bragging that Amazon Prime Day offers exclusive deals to its Prime members on electronics, toys, video games, movies, clothing, patio, lawn and garden, sports and outdoor items. Amazon offered some sneak peeks earlier on Tuesday.

Walmart.com (WMT) is countering Amazon’s promotion with a nonexclusive sale that’s open to everyone.

Best Buy (BBY) came out with its sale in advance of the Wednesday promotions by creating a Tuesday Techday sale, with free two-day shipping and “Deals for all. No membership needed.”

Here’s a look at five shopping tips to keep in mind today:

1. It’s only for members:

Amazon’s so-called “global shopping event” is available exclusively for Amazon Prime members. A Prime membership costs $99 for most consumers for one year or $49 for students.

Yet it is possible, no surprise, perhaps, that you can get a 30-day free trial to get access to Amazon Prime Day deals.

No doubt, Amazon Prime Day is yet another way to build Prime membership.

2. Think about potential back-to-school deals.

Brent Shelton, online shopping expert from FatWallet.com, said he would not be surprised to see some real deals on items for back-to-school.

3. Deals can come in lightning rounds or bunches.

Amazon said its deals will be added as often as every 10 minutes throughout the day.

Some shoppers plan to put items in their baskets earlier in the day but won’t buy the items until better prices show up later in the day.

Amazon Prime deals started at midnight Pacific time — 3 a.m. EST. Amazon said some of the deals that will be available at various times throughout Prime Day included:

• $30 off a Kindle

• More than 50% off two Nikon CoolPix cameras

• A Chromebook laptop for $199

• 30% off select clothing, shoes, and jewelry

• iRobot Roomba Pet Vacuum Cleaning Robot, under $300

• 60% off Amazon Elements Baby Wipes with code ELEMENTS60

4. Shop around

Don’t forget the competition.

Walmart is running more than 2,000 online exclusive “rollbacks” as well as discounts on shipping. Lower prices are expected on home goods, baby items and toys.

Walmart’s minimum order for free shipping is dropping to $35 from $50 during at least 30 days this summer.

It’s good to compare those electronics prices between Amazon and Walmart.com prices. Use the Google shopping price comparison tools. See Shopzilla.com and other comparison shopping sites.

One website, BestBlackFriday.com, is reviewing some of the deals and says some prices were somewhat better last year on some products, such as Chromebook laptops priced at $149.99 at eBay on Black Friday 2014.

Phillip Dengler of BestBlackFriday.com said Amazon and other large electronic stores regularly sell Chromebook laptops for $149.99 or below throughout the year.

Some real bargains?

“Shoppers should jump on the deals for the 32-inch television for $75 and the 40-inch television for $115 since they will not find prices this low during the rest of the year,” Dengler said.

Lisa Lee Freeman, a shopping expert and founding editor of ShopSmart magazine from Consumer Reports, said the risk to shoppers is that they forget to comparison shop and get swept up in the frenzy of an auction-like environment of one-day-only deals on Amazon.

“Don’t forget the basic principles of being a smart shopper,” she said.

Freeman said she’s bought pet food and pet supplies, cosmetics and other items on Amazon and found the prices to be good. Some prices for groceries at Amazon aren’t all that great, said Freeman, whose magazine has stopped publishing. The September issue will be the final issue of ShopSmart and is on newstands now.

Someone might want a trial membership for Amazon.com. But Freeman said not to sign up for a $99 annual membership if they’re not going to find value in the future. Benefits of Amazon Prime membership include free two-day shipping for eligible purchases, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows, and other deals.

“It’s got to be worth it for you,” Freeman said.

5. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.

If you think you need something in the next few months, great. But remember other expenses that you’re looking at this summer and fall, too.

The car payment? Auto insurance? A summer vacation before Labor Day?

Don’t get so overwhelmed by the hype that you buy stuff now that you really don’t need.

Keep some money in that checking account and wiggle room on your credit card to cover summer movies, concerts and everyday bills, too.

 

Source: UsaToday