Is Amazon Prime Day any good?

Amazon’s member’s only sale is back in October. Can you nab a bargain, or is it just a big PR push?

As with Black Friday, it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of Amazon’s Prime Day sale. There are so many offers, each of them seeming to have huge discounts that even I’ve been guilty of buying things that weren’t exactly essential. 

Now, if you can afford it and actually use what you buy, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But are you actually getting a bargain? I’ve taken a look at some of the big offers from recent years as well as half a dozen of my own purchases to see whether Amazon Prime Day is any good.

What is Prime Day?

Amazon Prime Day is an annual sale to celebrate Amazon’s birthday – and it’s only for customers signed up to Amazon Prime. This comes at a cost, £79 for a year, £7.99 a month or newbies can take out a 30-day free trial.

For that money you don’t just get access to this special sale, you also get extras such as film and tv streaming and free next day delivery. Here’s my full review and my thoughts on whether it’s worth the cash.

When is Amazon Prime Day 2021?

Usually Prime Day is held in the middle of July, around Amazon’s birthday. Last year it was postponed until October, but in 2021 it’s a few weeks early!.

It’s going to start first thing on Monday 21 June, with offers live from 00.01am. It’ll then run for 48 hours, so it’s all day Monday and Tuesday.

There will be some deals across both days, while others will likely be lightening offers that come and go. There are also a few early offers in the weeks leading up to the sale too.

How good are Prime Day deals?

I’ve taken a look at a selection of Prime Day offers from my Amazon order history and the deals I published here on the blog last year. Then using the price comparison site Camel Camel Camel I’ve worked out whether the prices charged then were decent or not.

A quick caveat. Camel Camel Camel’s price history doesn’t include Prime Day or Lightening Deal prices. So there’s a chance lower prices have occurred. Even so, the site gives us a good indication of the usual selling prices. More on Camel Camel Camel further down the article.

Bonus offers

First some generic deals which I’ll call bonus offers. These aren’t product specific but can boost the savings you make. If these are repeated this year then I think they or similar can be well worth getting. In 2019 I got:

  • Free £8 extra when topping up an by £80
  • £20 off an annual Prime membership
  • £10 credit for taking out an Audible trial
  • £20 Amazon gift card for opening an Amazon cashback credit card
  • £5 off two £50 Prime Now orders

There were also deals such as 20% off Amazon Warehouse purchases. Be wary of cheap trials (such as getting four months of Amazon Music Unlimited for 99p) that you cancel before you get charged full price.

Amazon devices

Some of the biggest discounts are for Amazon’s own devices, such as the Echo smart speaker and Fire sticks. Though these are discounted all through the year the biggest savings do seem to be on Prime Day and Black Friday.

I’d expect some big offers this year to clear old models which are due to be replaced in late October – and non doubt deals on the new versions too.

My Prime Day purchases

Of course, it’s not just Amazon products on sale. There will be thousands of items listed over the Prime Day sale, making it near impossible to see them all, let alone work out whether it’s a good price or not.

Last year I didn’t buy much, but back in 2018 I did pick up a number of things. At the time I checked the price history to see whether the discounts seemed good or not. Here’s how they fared in the following 12 months and their price now, which gives an idea of how things change.

Again, there could have been some subsequent lightning sale reductions which matched or bettered the prices. You can click the headers to see Amazon’s page on each product.

Bristan showerhead

  • Prime Day price: £170.19
  • Lowest price in the subsequent 12 months: £143.54
  • Price now (27 months on): £224.99
Bristan shower head Amazon price history July 2018 to June 2019

So as you can see, I could have paid less on four occasions but only for short periods of time – I’d guess 7 days in total. For the rest of the year the amount I paid was around 10 to 15% lower than the usual price.

As it happened our building work which was due to that last summer actually kicked nine months later, so I didn’t need to get the showerhead back in July, but with most purchases like this you wouldn’t wait and it was a good price going into Prime Day.

Hive heating and water smart thermostat with installation

  • Prime Day price: £124.99
  • Lowest price in the subsequent 12 months: £139.99 (Black Friday)
  • Price now (27 months on): £252
Hive smart thermostat Amazon Price history July 2018 to June 2019

Here my Prime Day purchase seems to have been unbeatable. Though there were discounts throughout the year, none were as huge as my saving.

TP-Link wi-fi extender

  • Prime Day price: £74.99
  • Lowest price in subsequent 12 months: £69.99 (June 2019)
  • Price now (27 months on): £88
TP-Link Wi-fi extender Amazon Price history July 2018 to June 2019

This item gradually fell in price after Christmas 2018, no doubt partly because tech often depreciates in value. Still it was something I needed to help improve some poor wi-fi and the price I paid at the time was still the best until 11 months later.

Hand luggage digital scales

  • Prime Day price: £6.07
  • Lowest price in subsequent 12 months: £4.99
  • Price now (27 months on): £7.95

This is the impulse purchase I made not really knowing if I’d use it or whether the price was any good. Well I have used it, so it was worth buying, and it’s only been cheaper once. Of course, with items like this there could very well have been something practically identical for less. Still, I’m happy with the price I got.

Hive smart light bulb

  • Prime Day price: £12.99
  • Lowest price in the subsequent 12 months: £11.99 (Black Friday)
  • Price now (27 months on): £15
Hive smart bulb Amazon Price history July 2018 to June 2019

Finally, I picked up two Hive smart light bulbs (this is the price for one).  It was rarely discounted on Amazon since Christmas, and certainly not to the price I paid.

Conclusions

As you can see, the prices I paid and those on Amazon devices weren’t always the lowest over the following year. It’s always frustrating when something is cheaper in a subsequent sale (hello our Made.com table which had £150 knocked off it days after we had it delivered).

However the prices were all very strong at the time. Any similar or bigger reductions over the nect 12 months were few and far between. For most of the year the items were all on sale at much higher prices, and it’s unlikely I’d have waited to make these purchases four months later at Black Friday.

Plus, stacked with those bonus deals such as the extra credit when buying a gift card, I managed to pay even less, making Prime Day probably cheaper for the items I got than any other day of the year.

So on this basis, I’d say Prime Day deals are likely to be decent deals. Of course, I’ve only looked at a fraction of what was on sale last year. So you need to do some quick research.

Don’t trust the RRP – it’s rarely the real selling price. Instead, as detailed below, use price history to see what your real discount is. Essentially you’re looking for

  • a discount bigger than the usual selling price
  • items that aren’t constantly reduced
  • something which isn’t about to be replaced by a newer version – bigger discounts could be on the way
  • a price you’re happy to pay
  • something you actually want and need

Prime Day vs Black Friday

One major difference in 2020 though is that Prime Day is so close to Black Friday. That will change Prime Day, and could change Black Friday too – though it’s impossible to say which one will be stronger.

Though in most years Black Friday seemed to have an edge, I don’t know if that will be the case this time. I’d imagine prices will be pretty similar on core Amazon devices, and any difference pretty small.

Ultimately, if you see something on Prime Day at a price you are happy to pay, then it probably makes sense to pick it up then rather than wait. Thought there is a chance you’ll miss out on a few quid, there’s also the risk that the item won’t be reduced in November!

How to find the best prices

As you’ll see from the graphs above, there are tools to help you work out whether a deal really is a deal. Here’s my pick of what you can use.

Check price history

The strangely named Camel Camel Camel is what I’ve used for the price history charts. It’s essential for helping decide whether to buy on Amazon now or wait.

You can also use it to set price alerts for when items hit a level you want to pay, though as I mentioned it doesn’t include Lightning Deals or Prime Day prices, which is a shame.

Look for price matching

Though the Prime Day prices will only be available to Prime members (remember you can get that free trial if you aren’t already, or just sign up for one month at £7.99) I’d expect other retailers to match prices or even offer their own deals to try to get some money spent with them rather than with the US giant.

It’s worth using Idealo, Price Spy or even just Google shopping to see how much what you’re thinking of buying is going for elsewhere. And don’t forget to see if you can stack other codes and savings on top!

Beat others to Lightning Deals

A lot of the offers you’ll see will be Lightning Deals with a limited quantity and limited time to grab them. Amazon obviously want to rush you into buying these offers, but there are ways to get the product in your basket before everyone else and still have time to check price history. Here’s my video on how to get lightning deals.

Pick of the 2020 Prime Day deals

I’ll update on my regularly updated Amazon Deals page all the top offers I spot when the sale kicks off so bookmark this page and come back on the 13th and 14th October 2020.

There are already some early bird offers that are worth checking out.

Is Amazon Prime worth the money?

Here’s my review of Prime, sharing what you get for your subscription.

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