- Amazon's "Prime Early Access Sale" kicked off Tuesday.
- Here's a look at some of the best deals being offered.
- Rival retailers are also getting a jump-start on the holiday shopping season.
Amazon's two-day "Prime Early Access Sale" is underway.
Look for significant discounts on Amazon devices, such as the Kindle, Echo and Fire TV streamer, and its private-label clothing, according to Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst at DealNews.com.
As part of the sale, the Fire 55-inch 4K Smart TV with hands-free Alexa is 80% off and some Echo devices are discounted by 55%, according to Amazon.
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Beyond Amazon's own brands, other deals include half off earbuds, speakers and headphones from Sony and Bose, 50% off Hasbro toys, some laptops from Dell and HP marked down 35%, Solo Stove fire pits for 30% off, 30% off Hydro Flask water bottles and 15% off Peloton bikes. CNBC's Select has a full roundup of best early Amazon Prime Day deals.
Unlike July's Prime Day, Amazon is featuring more gift suggestions this month — with more deals on well-known brands, such as Lego, Barbie and Sony — rather than household goods.
"They will try to hit all of the big holiday gifts: home decor, apparel, name brand accessories and toys, toys, toys," said Casey Runyan, managing editor at online discount marketplace Brad's Deals.
"The summer Prime Day was very toothpaste; that's not the same as buying that great kitchen appliance or hot toy," Runyan added.
Even the Amazon coat is back and marked down 30%.
New deals will drop every 30 minutes. When a deal is live, add the item to your cart immediately. Some items will sell out quickly, Ramhold said.
However, in order to take advantage of Prime Day deals, you must be an Amazon Prime member.
You can sign up for a month-to-month membership or a 30-day free trial.
Deal hunters should be wary of the monthly promotion, Ramhold cautioned, since it won't extend to Black Friday.
"By hosting this Prime Day event in October, Amazon has effectively assured that people will have to pay if they want to shop in November," Ramhold said.
The annual Prime membership also comes with a catch, since the retail giant raised the price to $139 from $119 earlier this year.
Rival retailers kick off early holiday sales
"October is really going to be the month of unprecedented deals," said Deborah Weinswig, the founder and CEO of Coresight Research.
Big-name competitors, including Target and Walmart, are also getting a jump-start on the holiday shopping season with discounts across all categories.
"Retailers are taking advantage of the fact that shoppers are in the market for deals during this time to create their own events to move inventory and win volume from Amazon," said Rakuten's retail and shopping expert Kristen Gall.
Here's a look at some of the other sales events happening now.
- Target's "Deal Days" started Oct. 6, with daily deals across all categories including furniture, electronics, beauty, apparel, toys and sporting goods. Shoppers also have the benefit of the retailer's price-match guarantee, which means purchases made between Oct. 6 and Dec. 24 can qualify for a price adjustment if the Target price drops any lower before Christmas Eve.
- Walmart is holding a "Rollbacks and More" event from Oct. 10 to 13, which will start before and end after Amazon's sale and include discounts on top gifts and electronics, home, toys and clothing.
- Kohls has its two-day Deal Dash on Oct. 11 and 12, with an extra 20% off already reduced merchandise.
- Bed, Bath & Beyond's fall savings event is underway, with markdowns up to 50% on almost everything plus an additional 20% off one item and $15 off a purchase over $50.
With sales starting earlier, retailers are hoping to lure shoppers with promotions well ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as consumers become increasingly concerned about higher prices.
In fact, many consumers have already started their holiday gift buying, studies show — and nearly 1 in 3 will shop this round of the Prime sale, according to a recent report by market research firm Numerator.
Fears that prices will only go up from here have motivated more people, a separate report by the National Retail Federation found. Roughly 44% of shoppers said it is better to purchase gifts now, because those items could be more expensive before the end of the year.
How to get the best deals this season
To maximize your holiday savings, start tracking prices now.
Ramhold recommends creating a wish list and then using a price-tracking browser extension such as Camelcamelcamel or Keepa to keep an eye on price changes and get price-drop alerts for the items you want.
"Once you have an idea of what they're charging now, you'll be able to tell much easier whether something is a really good deal," Ramhold said.
That may also depend heavily on the type of item, Runyan added. "Deals vary a lot depending on the category," she said. "For electronics, 10% off is good; with apparel and accessories, the margins are much greater, so there's more room to discount."
"For extra savings, apply promo codes or digital coupons, and use a rewards credit card to [earn extra] points or cash back," Gall said.