We all know about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but what about Amazon Prime Day? If you’re not familiar with Prime Day, it’s when Amazon goes mad for 24 hours and offers big discounts on things you might actually want to buy.
Last year it was the biggest day in Amazon’s history: Amazon's traffic was up 36%. It sold 90,000 TVs and thousands of Kindle Paperwhites, Fire TV Sticks and tablets.
In just three hours US customers had bought 18,048 pairs of headphones, while in the UK we bought 600 Trunki suitcases before breakfast. Amazon sold enough Philips Hue bulbs to replace every light in the Albert Hall daily for four and a half years.
So what exactly is Prime Day? Can you trust the deals or is Amazon at it? And when will Prime Day 2017 be anyway? Read on for the answers to these questions and some you might not have thought of.
When is Amazon Prime Day 2017?
Amazon hasn’t said yet, but we’re hearing that Prime Day 2017 will be held on Tuesday 11 July 2017. Prime Day 2016 was the 12 of July, which was the second Tuesday of the month. This year that falls on the eleventh.
What's the point of Prime Day?
Prime Day exists to promote Amazon’s Prime subscription service, which Amazon says is the best deal in the history of shopping. Prime Day is for Prime members, many of whom will sign up for a free trial of the service so they can get the deals. Once signed up, many of them stay as Prime subscribers.
If you're not a Prime subscriber, there's usually a big Amazon Prime sale in the run-up to the big day. In the US, a year of Prime was discounted from $99 to $79 while in the UK the discount price was £59 down from £79. As we mentioned in our Amazon Prime review, we think Prime is an absolute bargain anyway so at the discounted price it's hard not to strongly recommend signing up.
Why Amazon Prime Day matters
If you’re looking for bargains, Prime Day 2017 is important - not just for gadgets, but for any kind of item. For example, on Prime Day 2016 Prime members bought 215,000 pressure cookers, 200,000 pairs of headphones, 24,000 hammocks, 23,000 Roomba robots and 14,000 Lenovo laptops.
The crucial difference between Prime Day and Black Friday/Cyber Monday - other than it being Amazon’s idea - is that November’s deals are geared towards gifting, because of course it’s the holiday season. Amazon Prime Day is more about personal shopping, either for treating yourself or for saving money household items.
Will Prime Day 2017 be more exciting than last year?
That depends on what you’re planning to buy. Discounts on Amazon’s own products - the Amazon Echo, Fire TV Stick, Fire Tablets and Kindle e-readers for example - are pretty much guaranteed, and there will be stacks of lightning deals on the day too. Unless Amazon decides to do things radically differently this year it’s going to be a really mixed bag, with laptop deals next to handbag deals next to power tools and prosecco. If only there was a website beginning with “T” and ending in “echradar.com” to find the best deals so you don’t have to delve through the dross. Hang on… there is!
As you’d expect, we’re going to be hyped up on energy drinks throughout Prime Day on both sides of the Atlantic, finding the deals that you really don’t want to miss.
Do I need a Prime subscription to get involved?
Yes and no. While Prime is for Prime customers, there will be other deals on the day that are open to everyone - it’s just that with lightning deals, which tend to have limited stock, the Prime users get to see them before anybody else. That means some of the very best deals can be gone long before people who aren’t Prime members get to know about them.
That doesn’t mean you need to pay for a Prime membership, though. You can sign up for a free trial and take full advantage of all the Prime benefits, including Prime Day. But don’t forget to cancel the trial afterwards if you don’t intend to continue. If you don’t, you’ll be automatically billed for membership when the trial period ends.
Are there special Prime deals for students?
Yes. Amazon Student gives you Prime membership for £39 per year instead of the usual £79, and it’s completely free for the first six months. It’s worth considering not just for Prime Day, but for the included TV, music and movie streaming.
The top 5 deals of Prime Day last year:
Microsoft Surface Pro - £210 off
There were lots of , with a whopping £210 off Microsoft’s superb Surface Pro 4. There was nearly £200 off the Surface 3, £90 off Lenovo Ideapads and even money off Chromebooks: the Lenovo N22 Chromebook dropped from £160 to just £100.
Gibson electric guitars - 20% off
Amazon might not be the first place you’d think of when it comes to guitars, but if you were looking for a great price on a great guitar last year then it was the place to go - especially for Gibson’s more expensive models, which were on sale with whopping 20% discounts. Sadly our budgets didn’t stretch to top end Les Pauls, so we bought a whole bunch of heavily discounted Epiphone guitars instead.
Xbox One Guitar Hero Bundle - £105 off
We described this as an “epic party deal”: an Xbox One, Guitar Hero Live, a guitar controller and a bundled Kinect Value Pack with camera and three family-friendly games. At just £235 for the lot that was extraordinary value for money.
HDTVs and 4K TVs: up to £100 off
We’ve written elsewhere about TV deals that were too good to be true, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t genuine discounts on Prime Day. You could save up to £100 on a wide range of TVs including HD, 4K and 3D models, and there were discounts on home cinema projectors too.
Motion activated toilet nightlight: 25% off
Okay, this one probably isn’t a must-have - but it does demonstrate the depth of Amazon’s Prime Day discounting. If toilet nightlights aren’t your thing, you could get money off LED flashing gloves and other fairly niche products. As Amazon told CNBC: “What could be weird to one person may be wonderful to someone else.”
What to expect from Prime Day 2017
We’d expect Prime Day 2017 to follow the template of the last two Prime Days. In the week or two before hte big day, we'll see an enticing Amazon Prime subscription discount. Then on the day itself deals will be grouped into two category: Deals of the Day, which tend to be the most eye-catching and which are available in big numbers, and Lightning Deals, which cover every conceivable kind of product, have limited availability and often sell out very quickly. In the latter case Prime members get to see the deals before non-members.
Top deals to expect on Prime Day 2017
All the Amazon things
Last year’s biggest sellers included the Amazon Fire TV Stick, the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet and the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. Spot the trend? This year we’d expect those items to be joined by the Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot and Amazon Echo Look - so whatever you do, don’t buy an Amazon device this side of Prime Day unless you like spending more money than you need to.
PS4 and Xbox One
The current generation of consoles is well established and there aren’t any limited supply problems for the PS4 and Xbox One, so we’d expect some serious discounting on Prime Day 2016 - although probably not for the PS4 Pro, which is still relatively new. With the Pro out there and the Xbox One X incoming we think Prime Day could see some exciting deals, especially on bundles: they have more wiggle room when it comes to pricing than console-only offers.
Working out the value of a TV can be difficult: the pace of change and strength of competition means that even the most cutting-edge TV goes from can’t-afford to cheap-as-chips in an incredibly short time. Pay no attention to the RRP / MSRP, though: use a service such as PriceSpy or CamelCamelCamel to see if what looks like a great deal is just Amazon getting round to matching rivals’ prices. There will be lots of genuine deals, however, so Prime Day 2016 is a good day to look for a new TV.
Laptops and gaming laptops
We’re constantly monitoring laptop deals not just on Prime Day, but every day. There’s lots of flexibility in laptop-land, and we’d expect Amazon to take advantage of that to drop the price of big-name laptops quite dramatically. Keep a particular eye on Lenovo, Asus and HP laptops, which tend to see discounting across multiple models.
House stuff might not be glamorous, but you can save an absolute packet on everything from pots and pans to food processors on Prime Day. As we mentioned earlier it’s a big day for buying hammocks, pressure cookers and robot vacuum cleaners.
Prime Day 2017 FAQ: what it is, when it happens and where to get the best deals
What is Prime Day?
It’s Amazon’s annual birthday celebration, when it discounts more than 100,000 products of all kinds.
When is Prime Day 2017?
Amazon hasn’t said yet, but we’re hearing that Prime Day 2017 will be Tuesday 11 July 2017.
Is Prime Day 2017 Amazon only?
The name is Amazon’s, yes, but in 2016 plenty of other retailers decided to try and spoil Amazon’s fun by running their own doorbuster sales.
Are Prime Day deals real?
Yes and no. They’re real in the sense that you’re paying less than the official price for things, but sometimes that official price was just silly.
Like many retailers, Amazon is very keen on comparing prices against RRPs (MSRPs in the US) that nobody really expects anybody to pay - so for example in 2013 the Wall Street Journal noted that an Amazon deal of 45% off a $1,799 Samsung HDTV wasn't quite so impressive: the previous month, Amazon had been selling the same TV for $997.99, so the actual saving was less than ten dollars. Such deals are essentially the same thing as supermarket wine promotions or amazing, never-ending furniture sales.
If you have a particular product in mind it's worth keeping an eye on the prices now to make sure the deals are genuine on Prime Day. We find sites such as PriceSpy invaluable, as they enable you to see exactly what prices are being charged for specific things - not just big purchases, but smaller items such as video games too.
Some of the deals will clearly be paper bargains like the one the Wall Street Journal reported, but that doesn't mean all of them will be. Amazon will have been bargaining hard with key suppliers to cut the prices it pays for some products, and it'll sell some high-profile items as loss leaders in the expectation of cross-selling, up-selling and, well, selling. From Amazon's point of view it can lose money on big deals and make it back from Prime subscriptions and by shifting stock it wants to get rid of anyway.
Where can I find the best Prime Day deals?
. We scour all the top retailers’ Prime Day deals so that you don’t have to - and we tell you whether the deals are worth getting excited about too. Whether it’s a 4K HDR OLED TV or an Xbox One controller, if it’s discounted we’ll have the details here.
How do I get the best Prime Day 2017 deals?
Know what you want, know what you can afford to spend and know the market: you’ll often spot interesting price hikes in June to enable amazing-looking discounts on Prime Day. Pay particular attention to real prices, not RRPs: TVs are particularly bad for this, with sets whose RRP is eleventy billion pounds routinely selling for five hundred quid. Sites such as CamelCamelCamel and PriceSpy enable you to tell if you’re looking at a legitimate bargain or some timed tomfoolery.
It’s also a very good idea to be flexible: for example, if you fancy a Sony 4K TV then think about the features you want rather than a specific model number: the BRV123ABD54-88C-9218-B may not be discounted on Prime Day, but an almost identical set with the specification you want probably will be.
Can I get cashback on Prime Day deals?
Sometimes, yes. Your debit card or credit card may offer cashback on purchases. It’s definitely worth looking into, not just for Prime Day but for any online shopping.
Am I protected when I buy on Prime Day?
Yes. In the UK, anything you buy from a company online is covered by a wealth of consumer protection legislation including the Consumer Contracts regulations, which give you the same rights as with any other online purchasing - including the short-term right to return items even if they aren’t mis-sold or defective.
How can I stay safe on Prime Day?
There’s a good chance that spammers and scammers will latch on to Prime Day much as they have with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so be wary of unsolicited emails or links to deals on social media no matter how legitimate they look: anything asking for card details or login details is a scam. If you’re on a PC, make sure your security software is up to date. Many suites automatically block known scam sites.