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Amazon Prime Day, now in its seventh year, got its earliest start ever in 2021. The two-day shopping event runs until 2:59 a.m. ET Wednesday, June 23.

“I think this earlier start is likely Amazon trying to add some [sales] volume into the second quarter,” says Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at research firm NPD Group. “I also think this gives them a chance to experiment as to the best time to run Amazon Prime Day.”

There’s even a rumor that Amazon is planning a second Prime Day for the fall; the company said via email that it didn’t have anything to share beyond the June event.

More on Amazon Prime Day and Shopping

Amazon typically offers the best Prime Day deals on its own products, such as Echo smart speakers, Fire tablets, Fire TVs and streaming devices, and Kindle e-book readers. Amazon also owns Ring (smart doorbells) and Eero (mesh routers), so it’s a good guess you’ll see deals on products from those brands, too.

Unfortunately, it can be hard to find the best Amazon Prime Day deals. Many of them expire quickly, and new ones appear regularly, often without much notice. Consumer Reports will be keeping track of all the best deals on the best products, so bookmark our Prime Day hub now and check back often for the latest.

The following tips can help you save time and shop smarter.

How Amazon Deals Are Organized

You have to be an Amazon Prime member to participate in the sales event. If you’re not already a Prime member, you can take advantage of Amazon’s free 30-day Prime trial offer to shop the sale. Cancel before the trial period ends and you won’t be charged. 

The company runs several types of promotions for Prime Day.

Spotlight Deals typically have the most inventory, so you have a better chance of getting the product you want.

Gold Box Deals of the Day last 24 hours before being replaced by new ones. It’s usually fairly easy to get in on these promotions. However, they can also sell out, so it’s always best to act quickly if you see something you want.

Lightning Deals are promotions on specific items. They usually last only for a certain amount of time—sometimes just a few minutes—or until the item sells out. And new ones can pop up as frequently as every 5 minutes.

Amazon says it will be trying to drive sales to small businesses. One promotion, which runs from June 7 through June 20, gives Amazon Prime members who spend at least $10 on items sold by select small businesses a $10 credit they can use on Prime Day.

In past Prime Day sales, Amazon has pushed at least some deals through Alexa, its voice-powered digital assistant. And this will continue for the 2021 sale.

If you ask an Echo smart speaker, “Alexa, what are your deals?” you can get access to exclusive deals not available elsewhere, or access to certain deals an hour or so before they appear on the Amazon website.

But it’s hard to shop by voice. Even if you own an Alexa-powered smart speaker, you’ll probably find the best deals by sifting through the website or app.

What Will Be on Sale

“Prime Day is an event to celebrate Amazon’s Prime members, so the best offers are frequently on Amazon’s own products,” says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at the shopping comparison website DealNews. “There’s no reason to expect this year to be any different.” 

As mentioned above, that includes such items as Echo smart speakers and Fire tablets. And Amazon is already rolling out early deals. This currently includes deals on Fire TVs, including $100 off a 43-inch Insignia Fire TV, discounts on Amazon digital services such as Amazon Music, Audible, and Amazon Gaming, and savings in categories like fashion, toys, kitchen, and home improvement. And starting June 13, Prime members will be able to shop deals on Echo devices and more Fire TV products.

You’re also likely to see deals on products from other brands, such as Apple, Bose, HP, and Roku, to name a few.

One question mark this year is how the ongoing chip shortage will affect both product supplies and pricing. 

“I’m sure it will impact the pricing, and the availability of certain items, given the time frame,” says NPD’s Stephen Baker. “Costs are higher right now, and that will be reflected in pricing, even sale pricing. A specific brand or item might be unavailable, but there are almost always functional equivalents.” 

In response to an email from CR, Amazon said it didn’t foresee “a significant long-term impact to our supply chain operations,” including for its own devices, but will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Prime Day Shopping Tips

Here are a few ways to score a good Amazon Prime Day deal.

Download Amazon’s smartphone app. It allows you to get “sneak peek” advance notice of deals and to sign up for alerts. The app will also let you see upcoming Lightning Deals before they’re active. You can use the app to create a “Watch this deal” list, so you can get notifications when a deal is about to go live.

• Click the “Join Waitlist” button on the Amazon website or app for Lightning Deal items that have sold out. Items are deleted from a person’s shopping cart after 15 minutes if they haven’t completed the purchase, and you’ll get an alert if you’re next in line.

Turn on 1-Click purchases to speed up your checkout. Go to your Amazon account, and click the “1-Click settings” link. You can then set up or check your payment method and shipping address.

Use the free Amazon Assistant plug-in, which is available for most common browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Edge, and Safari. It can help you compare products and prices while searching and shopping online or get notifications when deals go live. It also provides Amazon shortcuts right in your browser. (Keep in mind that Amazon Assistant allows the company to do some tracking of your browsing behavior, as described in the plug-in’s privacy policy.)

Bookmark CR’s Prime Day hub to see the best deals on CR’s top-tested products. CR’s product and shopping experts will be scouring the sale to help you find the top offers more easily.

Compare prices. Many other retailers, including Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, are running their own sales at the same time. Search for the products you want on their sites before buying from Amazon to make sure you’re getting the best price. (Details below.)

Check Other Retailers

Other big retailers, such as Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, generally have their own sales events to compete with Amazon Prime Day.

Target typically holds a Deal Days event around the same time as Prime Day, and this year will be no different. Target Deal Days will run from June 20 through June 22 and will include deals across every product category. You can choose drive-up or in-store pickup if you don’t want to wait for shipping. 

Walmart also revealed it will hold its own shopping event—"Deals for Days." This will include products from just about every category both online and in-store, as well as Walmart's Marketplace sellers.

Last fall other retailers, including Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s, and Sam’s Club, had deal events that coincided with Prime Day. We haven’t yet seen their plans for 2021, but we're keeping a close eye on them.

So what does all this mean for you? Whenever you add an Amazon deal to your cart, it may pay to check out some of these other retailers to see whether they have it cheaper. Just remember that if you’re buying a Lightning Deal, you have only 15 minutes to complete an Amazon purchase before the item is removed from your cart and freed up for other customers.

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