October is the new Black Friday.
At least that is the impression of some dealers. Target and Amazon are starting the hot month this week and next with big discount campaigns.
Buyers may find the early sales a worthy way save money now on gifts. But don’t panic if you’re not already in the holiday spirit.
A September study on Christmas shopping by global intelligence firm Morning Consult notes that “retailers’ current aggressive pricing campaigns may point to an ‘always-on’ discount strategy into year-end.”
That should bring relief to those hoping to skip dawn patrol and avoid shopping cart rushes the day after Thanksgiving (November 25 this year).
Businesses compete for your money
“While many people say they’re trying to spend less this year, their actual spending projections are very similar to those for 2021,” said Claire Tassin, retail and e-commerce analyst at Morning Consult, in an email. “We will see that people make more compromises to compensate for inflated prices.”
The frenzy of early holiday sales shows retailers are competing for “a piece of this pie,” says Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at TrueTrae.com.
“Consumers have limited spending, and retailers are hoping to motivate them to shop early and spend [at their stores] compared to their competition,” says Bodge.
Target’s Deal Days will run from Oct. 6-8, while Amazon’s Prime Early Access Sale — unofficially dubbed Prime Day 2 — will take place a week later, on Oct. 11-12.
Both retailers are touting big savings on tons of products including home goods, electronics, clothing and toys. Amazon is almost guaranteed to be discounting its popular Alexa devices, and will be unveiling a new top 100 list with a curated selection of the best deals (if you’re worried about understanding all of this). The Amazon sale is exclusive to Prime members. The Target sale is open to everyone.
Be the version of yourself that plans ahead
While these early sales are a good opportunity to get a head start on holiday shopping, Bodge cautions against feeling a false sense of urgency.
“Try to stay focused,” she says. With a list of recipients, purchase ideas and a firm footing for the gift season holiday budget is the kind of shopping discipline that keeps people out of debt.
Planning will push you to shop more consciously and avoid the nitpicking of an unnecessary one impulse buy.
Recognize your savings opportunities
Check out your spend breakdown to see your top spending trends and see where you can save.
Do your research to get the best price
Speaking of impulsiveness, there’s really no reason to be fooled into a bad deal in the age of mobile screen dominance. Do your due diligence and compare the price of a product elsewhere before buying in store or online.
Bodge says installing a browser extension that scans the web for promo codes is an easy way to save “even more on top of retail sales.” She likes CouponCabin. Honey, Rakuten, and Camelizer are some other popular extensions that you should try.
Buy with peace of mind
A longer discount season also means less pressure on you. You can make a deal or stick with it, with fewer repercussions.
“The beauty is that many retailers will offer extended price protection,” says Bodge. “If you buy something now and later see it for a lower price, you can request a refund for the difference,” she says.
Target’s Holiday Price Match Guarantee, for example, runs longer this year, from October 6th to December 24th.
Bad purchases will also be forgiven. Many reputable retailers have been known to extend return windows for gifts purchased now until early January.
Pay attention to what you really need
Wondering why the topic of supply chains hasn’t come up yet? In a slight twist, some stores might actually be overstocked this year.
A case in point is casual wear, says Bodge. Retailers have focused on hoodies and joggers during the pandemic, but with many people now returning to the office (in regular pants, mind you), stores will look to shed a surplus of tracksuits, she says. Furniture can also be present in large quantities.
“Consumers should pay attention to what they really need to buy and not buy unnecessary things because they are heavily discounted,” says Bodge.
Spread some happiness
It’s been a tough year for many people, but stores are clearly competing fiercely for their business and are wasting no time (it’s the first week of October).
Even if you miss the early sales on Target and Amazon, there are more to come.
“Retailers will compete to generate that excitement throughout the holiday shopping season,” says Bodge.
Black Friday is all season long.