When to Score the Best Amazon Deals This Holiday Season—And It’s Not on Black Friday

Amazon merchants are feeling the impact of Chinese tariffs this holiday season and planning around them.

China tariffs are expected to impact Amazon's Black Friday discounts which shoppers have come to expect.
China tariffs are expected to impact Amazon’s Black Friday discounts, which shoppers have come to expect. Neil Godwin/Future Publishing via Getty Images

As the holiday shopping season approaches, expect less than stellar discounts on Amazon.

Thanks to the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, tariffs are expected to hit Amazon’s third-party sellers hard, with many of the merchants expected to pass on the price hikes to customers in order to offset costs. According to a new survey by Jungle Scout, an e-commerce tools community used by thousands of Amazon sellers, 42% of sellers said they’ll be charging more for products due to the new levy on imported products from China. Meanwhile, 38% of those surveyed say they’re reducing their typical holiday discounts.

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Jungle Scout CEO Greg Mercer, an Amazon seller himself, stressed the major impact of these tariffs on small businesses. And much like traditional retailers, many merchants count on the marketplace to boost their Q4 earnings.

So where does this leave Black Friday shoppers? This season, scoring deep discounts on Amazon is all about strategic timing. As it turns out, if you’re planning to shop ’til you drop on Thanksgiving weekend, chances are you won’t find too many major deals on third-party sellers’ items. In fact, the onslaught of tariffs is a contributing factor for all the pre-Black Friday sales you may have noticed throughout November.

According to the survey, almost three quarters of sellers claim they’re offering deals and discounts “on or before Black Friday.”

“In recent years, we’ve seen retailers offer holiday deals earlier and earlier in the year, and again in 2019, Amazon sellers are starting theirs well before Black Friday,” Mercer explained. He went on to note that because small e-commerce operations are facing more costs than usual this year due to the tariffs, it’s a contributing factor in them clearing out merchandise by competing with others offering pre-season sales.

As for tips on how to land the gifts on your list at the best price, Mercer says not to wait too long as many merchants struggle to keep stock in the warehouse this time of year. If you do decide to wait, some merchants say they’ll offer their deepest discounts during the third week of December.

He also says not to put too much emphasis on the “deal” badges, and just focus on price tags. “Lots of sellers simply lower the price of their product to compete with other Amazon sellers, rather than offering ‘seven-day’ or ‘lightning’ deals,” Mercer said.

When to Score the Best Amazon Deals This Holiday Season—And It’s Not on Black Friday