Amazon has fired the starting gun for a hugely important shopping season, with retailers racing to make up as many lost sales as possible between now and the end of the year.
Amazon said Monday that it will host its annual Prime Day on October 13 and 14. The sales event, which normally takes place in mid-July, had been postponed because of the pandemic.
Prime Day is Amazon’s version of Christmas in the summer, and sales routinely outpace Black Friday. Coming in just before the holiday shopping season, it could help propel the company to a blockbuster fourth quarter, while encouraging other retailers to offer October promotions, too.
Amazon has thrived during the pandemic as consumers buy more goods online and limit visits to stores, my CNN Business colleague Nathaniel Meyersohn reports. Last quarter, across all its businesses, Amazon reported nearly $89 billion in sales, up 40% from the same period a year earlier. Shares have skyrocketed nearly 68% in 2020.
Ready to shop? Amazon sets Prime Day for Oct. 13-14
Other retailers, which were forced to close stores for months due to government restrictions, aren’t faring as well. That means they’re even more likely to start advertising discounts soon.
Home Depot has said it will offer two months of Black Friday discounts starting in early November, and Best Buy is planning to start promotions earlier this year.
How much spending Americans can cram in between October and December has big ramifications for the US economy, which is powered in large part by consumers.
The bounce in US retail sales slowed in August, raising concerns that confidence is flagging heading into a crucial shopping period. There are some positive signs, however.
Consumer spending around Halloween, a useful test ahead of the holidays, is expected to reach nearly $8.1 billion this year, according to a recent study by the National Retail Federation. That’s down from $8.8 billion in 2019. But those shelling out money for decorations and costumes are expected to spend more per person.
“Consumers’ plans to spend a record figure individually on Halloween this year sets a positive tone going into the most important season for retail sales,” Jessica Rabe of DataTrek Research said in a recent note to clients.
And stores like Amazon and Home Depot may be right to assume people will start hunting for bargains earlier than usual. The NRF survey found that four in 10 people plan to begin shopping for Halloween in September this year — and some started even sooner.