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Why There are NEVER Deals on Individual Drill Bit Sizes

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We have been posting a lot about this year’s Black Friday 2021 tool deals, and a reader asked an interesting question about why we don’t see deals on individual drill bits.

Jeff wrote:

With all the holiday season deals happening, there are lots and lots of good deals on drill bit sets and driver sets etc. But what I never seem to be able to find is a deal on just specific common sizes of drill bits. And somehow, some gremlin always seems to break into my drill bit sets and break the more common smaller ones.

Ideally I’d like to find a five or ten pack of 3/32, 1/8 and 1/4 hex shank drill bits to replace the broken ones in my other sets. But when I look for them I only find very generic unbranded ones, or the prices are so high, I am just better off buying a whole new kit along with all the other sizes I don’t need.

Just like always needing a 10mm socket, I find myself needing to replace some of the smaller bits, and I want to get them as a value rather single packs.

Have you ever seen deals like that?

To start off, I’m just going to copy/paste over a couple of deals snippers from recent posts.

Dewalt 14pc Drill Bit Set Black and Gold

Dewalt 14pc Drill Bit Set – $9.98

Dewalt DW1163 13pc Drill Bit Set

Dewalt 13pc Drill Bit Set – $7.97

Milwaukee 15pc RedHelix Drill Bit Set

Milwaukee 15pc RedHelix Impact Drill Bit Set – $15

There are other deals, but these are enough to make a point.

These prices are in some cases a fraction of the price you would pay if you were to buy each size separately. For the Milwaukee 15pc impact drill bit set, the packaging says that you get “over $65 value.” These claims are usually pretty accurate, although nobody ever really pays that much.

How many of these drill bit sets do you think that the brands built up and shipped to retailers this holiday season?

Home Depot’s website says that they can ship 8,492 units to my zip code. That’s on top of the sets that my local stores still have in stock, which number from 11 to 100 depending on the store.

Let’s assume that each Home Depot store received (60) Milwaukee 15pc drill bit sets to stock their holiday season promotional displays. This is perhaps a conservative estimate, but since don’t know for certain, consider it a hypothetical value.

The last time I checked, Home Depot operated nearly 2,000 stores in the United States. Rounding up, that’s 2,000 x 60 units (minimum) = 120,000 units, plus another 8,500 (at least) that can be shipped to my area.

While this figure can be wildly inaccurate, it’s fair to at least say that Home Depot has tens of thousands of Milwaukee 15pc impact drill bit sets at promo pricing right now.

Home Depot stores also have a Dewalt 10pc special buy, although the 13pc and 15pc sets shown above are better values in my opinion. The stores near me are reporting between 6 and 132 units in stock, and there are 3,830 units that can be shipped to my zip code.

So, there are also tens of thousands of promo-priced Dewalt drill bit sets in stores for the 2021 holiday shopping season, and likely more than 100,000 units.

These are huge product volumes.

Will they bring you to the store? Will they keep you in the store? With a set of drill bits in-hand, what other gift or deals center items might you also find enticing? Maybe.

Then there are the branding benefits. That’s a MILWAUKEE drill bit set in your kit. Or Dewalt, or Bosch, or Diablo. These things stick with you and build brand loyalty.

Maybe these are your first power tool accessories from that brand. Are you gifting the drill bits to someone, possible along with a new cordless drill? Maybe it will be their first taste of that brand’s accessories as well.

If all you need are just a couple of drill bit sizes, it can still be more economical to just buy a set. While this can be frustrating, it’s still very much true. The same is sometimes true for cordless power tool combo kits, mechanics tool sets, hand tool sets, and other tool-related products.

What’s more economical, buying 4 water bottles from the refrigerated section of your local grocery or general home goods store, or a case of 24 water bottles?

At Home Depot, they have a screwdriver bit set and right angle adapter promo for $9.88. Meanwhile, the right angle adapter is priced at $19.97 by itself!!

These promo sets bring you into a brand’s ecosystem, and there’s value in that.

So why aren’t there drill bit deals?!

Economy of scale and sales numbers factor into everything. Let’s say you are a retailer or tool brand. Would you do anything differently?

All of this is true for ore than just drill bits.

Harbor Freight has been expanding their ICON line of mechanics tools, but they still don’t have open stock items, presumably because it’s not economical and the prices would be too off-putting to customers.

Most people buy individual drill bits out of need. Correct? So, you’re going to buy it anyway, aren’t you, deal or no deal. Right? Where’s the incentive in lowering the profit margin there?

For what number of combination wrenches is it more economical to buy a set instead of individual sizes?

Barnes & Noble (a national bookstore in case you didn’t know or forgot) has a free kids club, and they’ll send members a coupon for a free cupcake or similar treat in their birthday month. What are the chances that your visit to the bookstore will result in a slight loss on their part? What are the chances that you will buy something before you leave the store with child’s treat in-hand?

Individual drill bits? You’re going to buy those anyway, and so where’s the incentive for stores or brands to offer you a discount? This isn’t an area where brands or retailers will compete for your business on the consumer level.

Industrial suppliers, however, are a little different. Some do regularly discount tooling such as drill bits, but there are marketing benefits there too. If you’re looking through a sales flyer, maybe you’ll see something interesting and spend more than you had planned to. Or maybe a particular brand has paid for placement in the sales flyer.

That all said, I don’t think I have EVER seen holiday season promotional pricing on individual power tool accessories, at least not at retail stores. Come to think of it there are rarely promotions on individual drill bits, screwdriver bits, hole saws, reciprocating saw blades, and most other such accessories.

Think about your own purchasing behaviors. If you’re buying individual drill bit sizes, that’s usually a deliberate purchase, right? Is that ever an impulse buy? And what about drill bit sets, screwdriver bit assortments, or reciprocating saw blade packs?

Personally, I’m still contemplating buying a couple more drill bit sets from the links above. A Shockwave 3/8″ drill bit costs $13.57 by itself right now. Will I need another 3/8″bit this year? If so, it’s worth it for me to buy another 15pc set. Or will I need more smaller-size twist drill bits? The Dewalt 13pc set has been awfully enticing and has duplicates of commonly-used smaller sizes. Should I stock up?

Here are Amazon links to a Dewalt 1/8″ drill bit 2-pack, and a single 1/4″ drill bit. And here are links to the 13pc set of smaller drill bits for $7.97, and the 14pc bit set for $9.98. While they’re not the same drill bits – the individual ones look to have a TiN finish and the sets have black-and-gold drills – most people are going to look strictly at the price. Be honest – which would you buy? All you really need are a pair of 1/8″ drill bits and a 1/4″ drill bit – would you buy one of the set options, or would you spend the $9 and change for the individual sizes?

As for where to find replacement bits with impact-rated alloys and hex shafts, I haven’t a clue. Coupon promos can help. Amazon has the Bosch 1/8″ drill bit for $3.32, and it’s eligible for a “10% on 4 select items” offer, as well as $20 off $100+. (Here’s more on the Bosch buy 4 save 10% offer.)

It is fair to guess that most individual users will restock their kit by buying impact drill bit sets at promotional prices. This also means that lower sales volume will keep individually-packaged bits priced at full retail.

The upside to all this is that we can still buy sets with “over $65 value” for just $15. It seems unnatural, and the math used to give me a headache, but that’s just the way things are.

You will find similar pricing throughout the industry. The Dewalt 20V Max DCD777C2 cordless drill kit, for example, is seasonally priced at $99 (Amazon listing). Some retailers stock the bare tool, DCD777B. While it’s good – in theory – that there’s a bare tool option, nobody will knowingly buy the bare tool at $129 when they can get the kit for $99.

What about in… January? Well, when the promo-priced accessory sets sell out or jump back to their regular or interseasonal pricing, users will be more inclined to buy individual replacement bits, or bulk packs. Which brand or style are they likely go with? Much of the time, they’ll go for the one that they’ve been using.

If you were on the brand or retail side of things, what would you do differently?

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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