Thanks to Amazon Prime Day, mid-July has become a prime time for shoppers to snag deals, whether they’re looking for a laptop to take back to school or aiming to get an early start on their holiday shopping.
Yes, holiday shopping – in July.
Amazon’s Prime Day kicks off July 15 and for the first time will span 48 hours. But a shopping bonanza that began five years ago as a perk specifically for Amazon shoppers has now become an industry-wide event, joining Black Friday and Cyber Monday on the retail calendar as Amazon’s rivals launch their own big sales at the same time.
“Amazon Prime Day is no longer just about Amazon,” says Michelle Skupin, senior director, marketing and communications for deal site RetailMeNot. “It’s a brand new retail holiday that all major retailers are now participating in.”
Like Amazon, Target’s “Deal Days” will take place July 15 and 16, for online items. So will Best Buy’s sale that will be both online and in store. Macy’s “Black Friday in July” sale launched July 8 in stores and online and will stretch through July 14. And Walmart’s online-only summer deals will also kick off Sunday.
They are just a few of what RetailMeNot predicts will be more than 250 retailers having sales starting this weekend – up from 27 who did so in 2016.
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“You couldn’t find a better time to be a consumer,” says Joe Rohrlich, chief revenue officer of Bazaarvoice, which provides ratings and reviews solutions for brands and retailers. “In many ways, if you’re willing to do the research and to put in some of the work … there are both incredible deals and an incredible amount of information that is out there.”
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Amazon could reap roughly $5.8 billion in sales worldwide this year from Prime Day, according to Coresight Research. That’s compared to the $3.9 billion the company is estimated to have brought in last year.
But many other retailers are likely to get a bounce as well. A 79% uptick in online sales is expected this year for top online sellers on Amazon Prime Day, according to Adobe Analytics. That’s a significant leap from 2018 when retailers with over $1 billion in yearly revenue from online transactions experienced a 54% jump in sales during Amazon’s signature sales event.
It’s another way Amazon, which transformed the way consumers buy books before leading the shift to Americans buying virtually everything else online, has changed the retail game.
“It … speaks to the weight that Amazon carries in terms of being able to influence an entire industry,” Skupin says.
Rival retailers aren’t shy about taking some swipes at Amazon, even as they mimic or capitalize on the idea of Prime Day. EBay, which began rolling out deals at the start of the month, said it will have a “crash sale” on July 15, referencing the crash of Amazon’s site and app during last year’s Prime Day sale because of heavy web traffic.
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And Target touts that there’s “no membership required” to grab the bargains its offering over two days, unlike Prime Day, which requires shoppers to have a membership or to sign up for one.
“Last year’s Target.com one-day sale was one of our biggest days of the year for online sales,” Mark Tritton, Target’s chief merchandising officer said in a statement that noted this year’s deals will include toys, clothing and home goods.
Smaller companies are also getting a big push. “Last year, small and medium-sized businesses sold more than $1.5 billion in merchandise during Prime Day, and this year we’re doing more to put them front and center,” Nick Denissen, Amazon’s vice president of small business, said in an email. “For the first time, U.S. Prime members will be able to shop a dedicated page of deals from” those companies on Amazon.com.
Prime holiday shopping in July
Prime week sales have become a prelude to key shopping seasons with a Bazaarvoice survey finding that 48% of those intending to shop the mid-July sales will be searching for holiday gifts, while 38% will be doing their back-to-school shopping.
“Back-to-school was more concentrated around August and September, and that’s when you’d see the top shopping days of the quarter,” Skupin says. “Now, that’s moved up to July. So it’s really elongated the back-to-school shopping season. ‘’
The deals, on categories ranging from clothing to consumer electronics, will be real, though perhaps not as significant as the ones offered during the bigger retail holidays that pop up closer to Thanksgiving.
“I think in past years, we have seen some sales where the deals just weren’t that compelling,” says Skupin. “But now that so many are starting to participate in this holiday, it will become more competitive….The deals that we see aren’t as deep or as good as we see Black Friday through Cyber Monday, but I would say they’re in the third-place slot for the entire year.”
Besides Amazon, retailers expected to see the most business are Walmart, where 44% of consumers say they intend to shop, Target, which 40% say they will visit, followed by Best Buy with 24% and Macy’s with 18%, according to the Bazaarvoice survey.
Last year’s Amazon site crash may give some shoppers pause – and some Amazon rivals a potential advantage.
“Pressure will be on the Amazon team to clean up execution,” Greg Portell, lead partner in the global consumer and retail practice of the strategy and management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, said in a note. “Simply put, if the site crashes, look for competitors and the public to react swiftly.”
Such issues won’t likely turn consumers off on Amazon, though it may make them browse more retailers.
“I think it’s going to make more folks do multi-stop shopping,” says Rohrlich of Bazaarvoice. “And also, particularly around this kind of shopping event, (customers) understand other retailers are competing on price and promotion as well. So it creates a boon for all of the retailers who are invested online.’’
Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter: @charissejones