Why is the time before Prime Day the worst time to shop on Amazon?

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As product experts, a big part of our job at WIRED is to help you get the best products at the best prices. That includes helping you find great deals during massive sales events like Black Friday and, of course, Amazon Prime Day. If you want to get the best price on that gadget that’s been sitting in your cart for months, it’s important to know when to pull the trigger — and when not to. Aside from some great early Prime Day deals, now’s definitely the time to hold your fire.

Amazon, Walmart, and other major retailers raise prices on all kinds of products that have long fallen below their manufacturer’s suggested retail price ahead of a big sale. That’s how it looks when you see it on the big day In fact A great deal — even when it would be impossible to buy the product at the inflated price shown even if you tried. This isn’t a new phenomenon, and it’s not limited to online sellers. A Harvard business professor wrote a paper about the phenomenon in 2018. There have been unsuccessful class action suits against classic brick-and-mortar retailers like Kohl’s and JCPenney over the practice.

We do our best to help you spot this sale-price fraud with our daily coverage and Prime Day posts, but we can’t do it alone. As a savvy shopper, there are many ways you can prepare to get the best gear and still stay on budget, such as timing your move and buying the best gear from last year. Here are some helpful tips and tricks you can follow now and throughout the year to save some money.

Price tracking tools

If you focus on prices and shop on Amazon, you should use a price tracker to keep a close eye on product prices dropping (and rising). The best options are Keepa (which I use most often) and CamelCamelCamel. Both trackers are free and work on all top browsers. (You can read our in-depth guide for more tips on finding the best deals on Amazon.)

While it’s true that these tools are primarily for Amazon shopping, where Amazon goes, there are many other retailers to go as well, often including manufacturer sites. If you’re shopping outside of the Amazon world, there are some other good price tracking tools to check out, including deal sites like SlickDeals, Honey, and Pricerunner.com.

While none of these tools or specialized sites are perfect, they can all be helpful in telling you which deals are good and which are not.

Choose your moment

While keeping an eye on prices is important, knowing the best time of year to shop is crucial. As mentioned above, you’ll typically want to avoid buying big-ticket items, especially tech gear, right before a major sales event like Amazon Prime Day, which is set to take place on July 16 and 17 this year.

The same is usually true for other big store events like Wayfair Day, as well as general sales around holidays like Labor Day and Presidents Day. Not only is the product you’re looking for often selling for a higher price than it would during a big sale, but it may also be selling for the highest price of the year.

On the other hand, Black Friday (and Cyber ​​Monday) sales work the opposite way, becoming more of a month-long free sale than a one- or two-day event. We often see prices drop across product categories for weeks before Black Friday as retailers aim to get people to do their holiday shopping early.

If you’re looking for TV, soundbar, and home theater deals, you’re likely to see a massive sales explosion before the all-important “big game” that is the Super Bowl. Brands and retailers assume you’ll need a solid big screen and good sound not just for the game, but also for the halftime show, the Puppy Bowl, and those gazillion-dollar commercials. However, with many big shopping events and new TV model announcements happening right after the Super Bowl, these deals aren’t always what they seem.

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