Move over Amazon, 'Black Friday in July' sales are heating up

Target, Walmart, Macy's and over 250 other retailers are rolling out their own sales to rival Amazon Prime Day. Here's how to find the best steals and deals.
Image: Customers shop at a Walmart on Black Friday in Arkansas on Nov. 26, 2015.
Walmart is promising major rollbacks on electronics this week. Gunnar Rathbun / Invision for Walmart file
By Nicole Spector

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Amazon’s Prime Day may be all the rage, with the e-commerce giant promising to unveil one million deals during its two-day extravaganza, but savvy shoppers aren’t making Amazon their only shopping destination this week.

A new survey from BazaarVoice found that consumers plan to shop at Walmart (44 percent), Target (40 percent), Best Buy (24 percent) and Macy’s (18 percent) around Prime Day this year. Survey participants also said they shop outside of Amazon “because they find better sales (32 percent), and because other retailers have physical stores nearby (31 percent).”

“A year ago, it was becoming clear to us that Prime Day was clearly not just a shopping event for Amazon, but a sales and shopping event for consumers in America, period,” Joe Rohrlich, CRO, BazaarVoice tells NBC News BETTER. “Shoppers are focused on finding the best price, not just on Amazon but across other leading retail destinations.”

It’s all part of what’s now called “Black Friday in July”, which this year will see the participation of over 250 retailers, according to RetailMeNot — constituting a 30 percent growth year-over-year from 2018.

How are these retailers positioned to bring better offers than Amazon on certain categories, and how do you find the best deals out there? We talked to marketing and deals experts to find out.

No membership fees and possibly fewer impulse buys

Sure, you can get great savings on Amazon during Prime Day, and few consumer perks are as alluring as free two-day shipping, but consumers should keep in mind that Prime Day comes with an entry fee. You have to be a member to participate, and at $119 a year, that’s not exactly pocket change.

“I don't think of Prime Day as sales, the way consumers might,” says Timothy Derdenger, assistant professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business. “I think of it as a marketing promotion tool for Amazon Prime. [Additionally,] Amazon works with PhD-level economists and psychologists to leverage consumer behavior and drive impulse buys, which they do better than anyone else.”

Worried you'll be tempted to overspend on Amazon? Check out these expert tips for navigating Prime Day.

Best deals so far: A round up

Categories where retailers are anticipated to especially outshine Amazon include fashion, electronics, home goods, and back-to-school gear.

Below is a roundup of deals that have shopping experts gushing.

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  • Walmart: The big box giant is “promising major rollbacks on electronics for their sale on July 14-17,” says Kelsey Sheehy, personal finance expert for NerdWallet. “Some of the items include the HP 15.6-inch HD Touch Display laptop computer for $429 ($150 below list) and the Dyson Multifloor Bagless Upright Vacuum for $154 (a savings of $125).”
  • Target has 50 percent off some clothing and shoes right now, and is promising 40 percent off select furniture and 30 percent off Evenflo car seats and strollers when its Deal Days officially start on July 15,” says TopCashback.com’s Rebecca Gramuglia.
  • EBay jumped in on Black Friday in July sales as soon as the month kicked off, and is pushing a series of sales on electronics, home items, fashion and sporting goods. “EBay will have discounts of up to 80 percent on brands like Dyson, Apple, Samsung and Garmin,” says Sheehy. Perhaps the most fun of eBay’s multiple sales this month is the Crash Sale launching July 15. “In case you're wondering, this name refers to Amazon's site crash last Prime Day,” notes Gramuglia. Essentially, if Amazon’s site crashes like it did last year, eBay will roll out more deals in the snarkiest of celebrations.
  • Macy’s: Designer fashion, patio furniture, and electronics are just a few of the categories seeing significant discounts from Macy’s ‘Black Friday in July’ sale. “Head over to Macy’s flash specials and shop popular brands like Kenneth Cole, Ralph Lauren and so much more,” says Gramuglia.
  • Dell: “Dell’s Black Friday in July sale began on July 1st with deals on everything from computers and office essentials to TVs and home theater equipment,” Gramuglia says. “And with new doorbuster deals unleashing every day, consumers can be sure to find big savings at Dell – whether it’s for work or the upcoming back-to-school season.”

RetailMeNot is compiling a list of Black Friday in July sales, and you can find some more gems trickling in there, including striking deals from H&M, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Ulta.

Consumers can expect more sales and stronger offers rolling out this week.

Free, fast shipping can still be yours

One of the draws of Amazon Prime is the free two-day shipping. Some retailers are recognizing that and offering the same.

“Popular, one-stop-shop retailers like Target and Walmart offer free two-day shipping with a minimum purchase of $35,” says Gramuglia.

Sheehy adds: “ Shoppers who hit up Target’s Deal Days can get some of their items within an hour of placing their order if they opt for in-store pickup. That’s not available on all items.”

Price compare and more with browser extensions

There are a number of browser extensions you can use to price compare, check price history and even fatten savings with coupon codes and cashback offerings.

“Download a browser extension like Wikibuy so you can easily compare prices across multiple websites,” says Sheehy. “You can comparison shop for better deals within the same retailer, too,” says Sheehy. “I’m hoping to find a deal on a Fitbit Charge 2. I searched eBay deals and found one for $106.95. But when I changed my search to ‘all categories’ instead of ‘all deals’ I found one from an eBay seller for $79.99.

Sheehy also recommends using browsers extensions Honey and The Camelizer “to check the price history on an item to know if you’re really getting the best deal. Some of these tools will also find coupons for you, so you don’t miss out on any savings.”

Browser extensions such as Rakuten (formerly known as eBates), RetailMeNotGenie and CashbackNotifier from TopCashback are also useful tools for packing a bigger savings punch. As an example, as I’m writing this I’m seeing that you can get 10 percent back at Macy’s and Dell via Rakuten.

Join email lists, loyalty programs, and follow your favorite retailers social media

Be sure to follow your favorite brands on social media and sign up for their email list (you can always unsubscribe) to get dibs on deals as they roll out.

“With today's technology, preparing for Black Friday in July is easier than ever,” says Gramuglia. “Sign up for your favorite store's email newsletter, rewards program and follow their social media for the inside scoop on all their sales and deals.

Pro tip: Retailers often offer exclusive deals to their social media fans and/or email subscribers that the normal public won't see.”

While you typically don’t have to become a member to shop Black Friday in July sales from participating retailers, joining loyalty programs can help you save more than you would on Amazon.

“Loyalty pays off,” says Gramuglia. “Stores like Best Buy, Sephora and REI (only $20 for a lifetime membership) offer [loyalty] rewards programs that earn you discounts, products and/or exclusive access to events.”

Shop these stores? Tap into these expert tips

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