Smart Buying

5 Reasons You Shouldn't Shop on Amazon Prime Day

Think twice before getting lured into buying a bunch of stuff you don't need just because it's on sale.

Many bargain hunters are counting down the minutes to the start of Amazon's third annual Prime Day, slated for July 11 (early access to deals actually begins at 9 p.m. ET on July 10). The members-only mega-sale promises deep discounts on thousands of products. But are Amazon's blink-and-you-miss-them lightning deals worth the hype? Based on past complaints about checkout glitches and inventory shortages, plus the availability of bigger sales at other times of the year, savvy shoppers might be better offer taking a pass on Prime Day altogether.

We talked with several retail experts about the pros and cons of shopping on Amazon Prime Day, with an emphasis on the smart reasons you shouldn't shop this year. Here's what they had to say:

You Must Be an Amazon Prime Member to Access Deals

Not a Prime member? Unless you have yet to take advantage of Amazon's 30-day free trial (longer for students), you'll have to fork over $99 to cover the annual membership fee before gaining access to the exclusive deals on July 11.

But if you're considering joining Prime just to shop on Prime Day, think twice before committing. If you don't plan to frequent Amazon often enough to reap the savings of Prime's free two-day shipping or to utilize the other member benefits (streaming music and videos are among the most popular), it could be a waste of your money.

Popular Items Sells Out Fast

In years past, one of the top complaints from shoppers on Amazon Prime Day has been that highly coveted items such as TVs and laptops were only available in limited quantities and sold out too quickly. As a result, "[you're left] sorting through random deals such as gimmicky gadgets and old DVDs to find worthwhile products and prices," says Benjamin Glaser, features editor for DealNews.com. Amazon is upfront about the limited quantities on Prime Day, but it's still a letdown if you wait hours for your item to go on sale only to find it's unavailable when you try to add it to your shopping cart.

You're an Indecisive Shopper

Keep in mind that if you're an indecisive shopper -- say, you're someone who lets a desired item sit in their online shopping cart for a day or two before deciding if you really want to buy it -- you should probably skip Prime Day, suggests Kristin Cook, managing editor of BensBargains.com. Since the best deals don't last long, and new deals come online as often as every five minutes, you'll need to be ready to act fast if something catches your eye, Cook says.

You're an Impulse Shopper

If you like to window shop and get easily lured into buying something you don't need simply because it's on sale (let's be honest, does anyone really need a toilet bowl light?), then you'll want to steer clear of Amazon Prime Day. It could be too tempting.

Remember, this is a sale where shoppers who are keeping a close eye on deal updates will be inundated for 30 hours straight. "Unless you find something you really need or want, be careful not to blow your budget because you got caught up in the frenzy," warns Courtney Jespersen, a shopping and retail expert for NerdWallet.com.

There Are Better Sales at Other Times of the Year

It's no accident that Prime Day falls in July. Mid-summer is, in general, a slow time for retailers. The few major sales that do occur usually happen near the Fourth of July, then there's a lull until back-to-school deals start to pop up in August. Amazon Prime Day was created to fill the void. However, if you're not in a hurry, it could pay off to delay your purchases until later in the year.

"Black Friday is the deal day of all deal days," Jespersen says, "and will generally be your best bet for super-low prices on about any product category." Glaser of DealNews.com adds that while prices on Amazon branded products will likely be their lowest on Prime Day, other merchandise such as school supplies, grills and patio furniture will be priced better starting in August through September.

If you insist on shopping on Prime Day, Jespersen recommends checking out e-commerce sites other than Amazon.com. "More and more retailers are offering sales at the same time as Prime Day," she says. "This cluster of summer deals has come to be known as Black Friday in July. So don't limit yourself to just Amazon."

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