Amazon Prime Day 2021 is nearly here, along with competing sales from other big retailers. If you don’t have the details, here are the sale dates to mark in your calendar:
- Amazon Prime Day, June 21-22, 2021. Shop here.
- Walmart Deals for Days, June 20-23, 2021. Shop here.
- Target Deal Days, June 20-22, 2021. Shop here.
Plus you can expect to see June sale announcements shortly from Best Buy, Kohl’s, Home Depot, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Of course, I’m mostly interested in how Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Kohl’s can help me upgrade my wardrobe for less than full price.
Before I dive into the essential shopping hacks for June’s big fashion sales, I need to shout out to Popcart for contributing insider tips to this post. Popcart is a browser extension and mobile app that compares prices across retailers and can notify you when sold-out items are back in stock.
Now, on to business. I’ll be blunt: Amazon Prime Day and its competing sales are designed to whip you into a shopping frenzy — so eager to capture once-in-a-lifetime prices that you don’t hesitate to price shop before tapping “place order.” If I sound cynical about this, well, I am. Having seen A LOT of online fashion sales come and go, I’m pretty sure there’s never a point when an item is discounted to a once-in-a-lifetime level.
Still, if you’re on the hunt for, say, an off-shoulder top to wear with a denim midi skirt, the big sales are the right time to shop. Just make sure you don’t get duped along the way. Try these five insider shopping tips to fend off the big-sale frenzy.
1. Shop with a list
A shopping list is your shield against spontaneous, budget-blowing purchases. Even if you want to buy gifts for the 2021 holidays, you need to write down who needs a gift and some potential ideas for each giftee.
If your goal is more open-ended, like you want some cute clothes for summer, do a closet review. That involves noting what pieces you have for summer and what’s potentially missing. Jot down colors and pieces that could fit seamlessly into your rotation. You don’t want to buy a dress that then demands a new pair of shoes, for example.
2. Pre-shop other stores
Preshopping is particularly useful for fashion shoppers who aren’t loyal to one brand. Back to the example of buying an off-shoulder, you probably don’t care who makes the top. You care more about the style, quality, and price. Shopping for that garment before Prime Day or Deal Days establishes your pricing expectations. If H&M has a top you love for $18, an Amazon top that looks almost the same for $20 may not be a good deal — no matter how much it’s discounted.
The exception is if you know the Amazon top is of vastly higher quality. You can sniff that out by looking at the fabric, lining, and stitching. Zoom in on the product photos to check for single or double stitching. Also, read the reviews and see what other shoppers have to say about quality.
3. Compare prices
Never assume that Amazon Prime Day prices are the end-all, be-all. You may find better prices on similar pieces from Target or Walmart. You can use Popcart to take the legwork out of comparison shopping, or you can do it the old-fashioned way — by opening a bunch of browser windows at once. You might also try price shopping on your mobile phone as well as your computer. It’s not unheard of that retailers could offer different prices by device.
4. Read reviews — carefully
Habitually checking review ratings is a great shopping habit, but it’s not enough — especially on Amazon. Too many times, I’ve scrolled down to find that the reviews on the page are for a different product. A five-star rating for a different product shouldn’t be a decision factor.
Another reason to read reviews is to confirm that the product is authentic. Amazon has had issues with counterfeits for ages. Just last month, the retailer blocked 10 million suspicious listings — after facing mounting pressure from customers, brands, and even lawmakers. Reading the reviews doesn’t ensure the product is real, but buyers who receive fake goods are quick to warn their fellow shoppers.
5. Check return policies
Checking return policies is best practice for any online shopping. The sticking point is whether you must pay for the return shipping. It’s a waste of your clothing budget to spend $10 on not buying something.
Here’s a quick primer on return policies for Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Kohl’s. Note that sale items may have different rules, so always read the fine print.
- Amazon returns: You can usually return your items within 30 days. If you live in the U.S. and you buy an item marked “free returns,” you should have at least one free return option — such as the option to take the product to an Amazon drop-off location. Otherwise, you pay for return shipping.
- Target returns: Target accepts returns within 90 days of purchase. Target covers the cost of shipping your return. You can also take the item to a Target store.
- Walmart returns: Walmart also accepts returns within 90 days of purchase. You can return goods for free by mail, in store, or via scheduled pickup from your home.
- Kohl’s returns: Kohl’s accepts returns for 180 days after purchase but does not pay return shipping costs. You can return your item to a Kohl’s store, however.
The big retailers want to you slip into holiday shopping mode this month. Resist the urge. Instead, make a list, gather intel on the pricing for items you want, compare prices in the moment, and — most importantly — shop calmly. That way, you’ll get deals you can feel great about and pass on the ones you’ll only regret later.