What Is Prime Day? A Beginner’s Guide to Amazon’s Shopping Holiday.

How to find deals, what to avoid, and who’s competing against Amazon

amazon prime day beginner's guide
Prime Day 2019 starts Monday
Justin Sullivan / Getty
By Kirk Miller / July 11, 2019 2:47 pm

Amazon’s Prime Day is actually two days this year: Monday, July 15 and Tuesday, July 16.

It’s also the biggest sale day(s) of the year for the shopping giant, with over 100 million items sold. But disregard the “Black Friday in July” hype, as Prime Day doesn’t always offer what some would consider “good” discounts, even in its fifth year — that is, even when the site isn’t crashing.

Still, among the 48 hours and thousands of deals, there’s bound to be something worth buying. And there’s a gamified element here, with the sales updated constantly, ending quickly and spread out through dozens of categories and over several mediums (Amazon’s site, the app, Alexa devices, etc.). 

It’s a lot of information to take in, but we’ll be there covering the worthy deals when they happen — though, to make it more complicated, some deals are already popping up early. And a number of competitors are starting their own variations on Prime Day, on or around the same days. 

Amazon Prime Day

Below, a cheat sheet to all things Prime Day. 

When does Prime Day start? Prime Day kicks off Monday, July 15th at 12 a.m. PT. It runs through Tuesday, July 16th.

Not a Prime member? Have a family member share their Prime benefits at no extra cost. Or start a 30-day free trial.

Where do I find the deals? Go here

Can I just start shopping now? Yep. Besides sales already up on the site, the Amazon App has an option for you to “watch this deal” and get notified when your item actually goes on sale. 

What’s Amazon going to offer as incentives? There are a few $10 bonuses and credits available if you sign into the Amazon app for the first time, install Amazon Assistant on your desktop, reload your Amazon gift card balance or spend $10 or more at Amazon-owned Whole Foods.

What were the best-selling items from 2018 Prime Day? The Fire TV Stick. Other best-sellers around the world included Instant Pots, USB cables, smart plugs, grooming kits and robovacs. Don’t get too excited.

What about this year? As the Amazon press release on Prime Day notes, “Prime members will find the biggest Prime Day deals ever on Alexa-enabled devices.” Also, “back to school” items, four months of Amazon Music for 99 cents and half off on Prime Video rentals. Expect a lot of name-brand clothing sales mixed in with Amazon’s own in-house brands as well.

Are these actually good deals? It really depends, but Tom’s Guide suggests bookmarking the price tracking site CamelCamelCamel along with Fakespot, which analyzes customer reviews to see if they’re real. For things to avoid … 2019 TVs, “bundles,” Lightning Deals, big-ticket buys you don’t need or obsolete tech.

What do I look for when I’m shopping? Search for items with a “Prime Day” badge. Also, several new products will launch for Prime members only on this page.

Who should I be following for deal updates? Well, us, for starters. As well, The Wirecutter offers a pretty thorough roundup of sales, via their Deals page, Twitter account and Daily Deals newsletter. Fun fact: that New York Times-owned product guide only posted 258 recommended deals out of nearly 50,000 offered. 

After seeing that John Oliver report, I’m not sure I enjoy the idea of putting Amazon warehouse workers through all this. Those workers agree with you — one Minnesota warehouse will have a six-hour work stoppage right in the midst of Prime Day.

Who’s competing against Amazon this year?

Target: “Deal Days” is July 15th and 16th, and promises their “biggest sale of the summer.”

eBay: On July 15th, the e-commerce portal will offer “doorbuster savings on top brands, including LG, Apple, Samsung, KitchenAid, Garmin, and more over 50% off — with a fresh batch of too-good-to-be-true deals that will drop if Amazon crashes.” Ouch. As well, the site kicked off a few different deals on July 1st, and “Hot Deals for Hot Days” (with new deals every day, up to 80%) goes through July 22nd.

Walmart: From July 14-17, the company will offer big savings and free two-day shipping or NextDay shipping if you spend over $35 (and you won’t need a membership).

Macy’s: There are over 156,000+ items discounted for the “Black Friday in July” sale, now through Sunday, July 14th.