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Costco, Target run sales to compete with Amazon’s Prime Day, but supply-chain issues could mean fewer deals

Consumers looking for big deals on awesome stuff may walk away feeling disappointed.

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Happy Prime Day! Many frugal shoppers have waited months for this summer megasale. But this year, they may find fewer deals not only at Amazon but at other big retailers too, as pandemic-induced supply-chain hiccups affect the availability of merchandise. Sourcing raw materials and manufacturing products, and shipping those products to retailers and customers, all still take longer now than they did pre-pandemic, and those slowdowns have made items harder and more expensive to stock.

Costco, Target, and Walmart, which are all running their own summer blowout sales this week, are facing the same supply-chain issues as Amazon, so consumers looking for big deals on awesome stuff may walk away feeling disappointed. Especially since current robust levels of consumer spending mean that many brands don't feel the need to slash prices to compete.

Facing depleted stocks of merchandise, some retailers are getting creative with deals. Target is running food and beverage discounts for the first time this year, putting it squarely in competition with Walmart and Amazon-owned Whole Foods for a slice of grocery spending this week.

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Amazon is making shopping more seamless — but don't forget to compare prices

Prime Day has evolved since Amazon inaugurated it in 2015. Back then, the online retail giant used the doorbuster deals to attract customers to its Prime subscription service, Michael R. Levin, partner and co-founder of Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, recently told Grow. Now that Prime itself has achieved critical mass, Prime Day has become a laboratory for trying out new sales strategies on customers in real time.

"Amazon can test out all sorts of concepts in a concentrated, focused way," Levin said. "It can introduce new products, try pricing strategies, and see which promotional messages work best."

For example, Amazon has been working on its app to make quick buying even more seamless, Josh Lowitz, also a partner and co-founder of CIRP, told Grow.

"In recent years, there has been an emphasis on encouraging usage of the Amazon Shopping app on smartphones and voice shopping with Alexa, with special promotions for each of those shopping channels," Lowitz said.

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The company's hope is that improving the app will make consumers less likely to compare prices at other retailers and more likely to purchase extra items, experts say.

Shopping on your computer versus on your phone or using your Alexa can help you avoid falling for these mental traps. You can price-compare using a Chrome plug-in like Yroo, too, which shows you how much a product is selling for at other retailers.

Another way to avoid mental traps is to look at an item's price history, experts say. The site Camelcamelcamel.com shows the price history of products on Amazon and will give you a good sense if the price you're paying is in line with norm.

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