What to Expect for Amazon Prime Day 2021

CR has the latest on Prime Day rumors and what to expect this year

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It's official—the seventh annual Amazon Prime Day will again be a two-day affair, kicking off at 3 a.m. ET (12 a.m. PT) June 21 and ending 48 hours later.

Amazon is promising more than 2 million deals this year, covering almost every category. Some of these offers are already available, and more will come in the days leading up to the sale. Consumer Reports will be tracking all the deals from now through the big event to help you find the best offers on the best products.

“Prime Day is a celebration of our Prime members, and we’re excited to bring members great deals across an incredible selection, whether members want to shop and save on top brands, buzzworthy items, or small business collections,” said Jamil Ghani, vice president of Amazon Prime.

Here’s everything else you need to know.

What Is Prime Day?

The sale, which includes deals on products of all kinds throughout the site, is open exclusively to Amazon Prime members. You can sign up for a free 30-day trial to take advantage of deals and cancel before the trial period ends if you don’t want to pay for a membership.

More on Prime Day

Prime membership, $13 per month or $119 per year, offers a variety of perks, including expedited shipping on select products, as well as access to Prime Video, exclusive deals, and more, all of which you can sample during the trial.

It’s worth noting that without a Prime membership, you won’t even be able to see the majority of the deals on Prime Day. Some discounted prices are visible only when you’re logged in to a Prime account. Read about the pros and cons of Amazon Prime.

Are There Any Early Prime Day Deals?

Every year, the most heavily promoted deals tend to be on Amazon’s own lineup of devices, including Echo smart speakers, Fire tablets, and Kindle e-readers. There are also special deals on Prime services like Prime Video, Audible, and Amazon Music, typically reserved for first-time subscribers.

These offers have almost always started well ahead of the actual sale, and this year is no different. Amazon already announced early Prime Day deals and promotions that will run in the weeks leading up to the two-day sale, mainly on the brand’s Echo and Fire TV products. There are also early discounts in other categories, including fashion, home improvement, electronics, and grocery, among others. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to access these deals unless you’re logged in as a Prime member.

You can start shopping many of these deals now, but others won’t be live until June 13. Here are a few early sales that are already available.

Insignia 43-Inch 4K Fire TV
The deal:
$220 at Amazon
CR’s test results: Insignia NS-43DF710NA21 TV
This 43-inch 4K smart TV from Insignia—Best Buy’s house brand—does a nice job overall for both HD and 4K picture quality, but like many less expensive TVs, it can’t get bright enough to deliver a compelling HDR (high dynamic range) experience. Like the Toshiba set below, it has Amazon’s Fire TV smart streaming service—and its Alexa voice-enabled digital assistant—built into the set. It originally cost $320.

Toshiba 32-Inch 720p Fire TV
The deal: $220 at Amazon
CR’s test results: Toshiba 32LF221U21 TV
Another of Amazon's early Prime Day deals for Prime members, this Toshiba Fire TV is a decent, if unexceptional, 720p model that offers very good overall high-def picture quality. Plus it has Amazon’s Fire TV smart streaming service—and its Alexa voice-enabled digital assistant—built into the set. It usually costs $200.

Amazon Music: First-time subscribers to Amazon’s music streaming service can get the first four months free—the best deal we’ve ever seen for this service. And if you are going to buy an Amazon Echo device, you can get six months free.

“Spend $10, Get $10”: This deal is aimed at promoting small businesses that sell through Amazon, and the company claims that more than 300,000 merchants are taking part this year. If you buy at least $10 of goods from a small business seller between June 7 and June 20, Amazon will give you a $10 credit to use on Prime Day. This includes select merchandise from Amazon Handmade and Amazon Launchpad.

What Other Deals Can You Expect This Year?

Amazon is also promising early discounts on toys, small kitchen appliances, home décor, pet products, power tools, headphones, and everyday essentials. And that’s all before Prime Day even begins.

In previous years, we’ve seen price drops on popular items like Instant Pots, robotic vacuums, smartwatches, and even mattresses. There will also be deals and discounts at Amazon’s walk-in stores, including Whole Foods, Amazon Go, Amazon Books, and Amazon Pop Up.

As with past Prime Day events, not all discounts are guaranteed to be available for the duration of the sale. Lightning Deals will have countdown clocks, encouraging shoppers to buy quickly rather than miss the deal. Others may end without warning if items go out of stock. For more on how to get the best deals, check out our tips.

Consumer Reports’ product experts will be tracking all the deals on Prime Day and sharing the best offers on top-tested products.

Will Other Retailers Have Prime Day Deals, Too?

Ever since the first year of Prime Day, other retailers have held their own sales around the same time. So far, only Target and Walmart have announced competing sales this year, but we expect others, such as Best Buy, to follow suit in the coming days and weeks.

Target’s Deal Days event will start a day earlier than Prime Day, running from June 20 to June 22. And Walmart is adding another day to that—its sale will start June 20 and end June 23. Both retailers are promising prices on a par with what you’d expect for Black Friday. So you’ll be able to compare prices at these and other retailers to make sure you’re getting the best deal no matter where you choose to shop.

Prior to 2020, other retailers would hold sales to compete with Prime Day collectively, which became known as Black Friday in July. It’s still unclear whether these will continue as scheduled or be rescheduled to align with the earlier Prime Day schedule.

How Should You Prepare for Prime Day?

If you’re not already a Prime member, you’ll need to sign up for the free trial before the sale begins. This is the only way you can see most Prime Day prices. And you can easily spot the special savings by the blue badges labeling them as Prime Day deals. (Check the Amazon policy on free trial memberships.)

Lightning Deals, as the name implies, are limited-time discounts. They last anywhere from 4 to 24 hours. Amazon also limits the number of available items in a Lightning Deal, so if something is 100 percent claimed, you can join the waitlist and you’ll be notified if someone abandons their cart. Other discounts might not be as transparent in how long they’ll be available or even how good the deal is.

When the event is live, Consumer Reports will be comparing sale prices on tested products with each product’s typical cost to help you avoid overspending or buying something that doesn’t work as well as you want. You can also take a look at CR’s Prime Day hub for the latest and best deals from Amazon and other major retailers leading up to and during the big sale event.

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Head shot of CR Shopping Deals Editor Samantha Gordon

Samantha B. Gordon

I am an avid writer, editor, and consumer with an unusually deep love for finding amazing deals on amazing products, especially when those things can make my life, or yours, a little easier. When I'm not critiquing deals to find the best of the best, you can find me crafting on a barstool with a fancy cocktail or editing a science fiction novel (also with a cocktail). Follow me on Twitter (@sam_the_editor).