What to Expect as Amazon Prime Day Kicks off the Holiday Selling Season

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
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Amazon’s annual Prime Day discount event is here, with Alexa's help, just over two weeks after the retailer announced it would be held Oct. 13-14. The event,typically held in the summer, is predicted to generate $9.91 billion in sales worldwide for Amazon, including $6.17 billion in the U.S., according to eMarketer.

“While demand will be strong, the event will be more difficult to plan for than in previous years,” said Andrew Lipsman, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. “Since Prime Day’s 2015 debut, Amazon has expanded the scale and spectacle of the event in a mostly predictable fashion.”

Amazon’s decision to move Prime Day from mid-July to October, amid the heath crisis, has left a bit of uncertainty as to the event and events from retailers seeking to run competing sales. Target for example will hold its Deal Days promotion on the same days as Amazon Prime Day, featuring more than double the digital deals as last year, the retailer said. Walmart is hosting its annual “Big Save” promotion Oct. 11-15. 

Yet, as many retailers quickly rolled out e-commerce events to take place the same week, many consumers still might not know Prime Day was moved this year. A Coupon Followsurvey found over half (52%) of Prime member respondents stated that they did not know Prime Day was moved this year, and only 1 in 5 (20%) knew it was going to be in October.

Just over half (51%) of Prime member respondents stated that they have shopped and purchased on Prime Day in the past two years, while 27% stated just browsing, and 17% did not participate at all.

A Coresight Research survey found 26% of U.S. consumers expect to purchase from's Prime Day promotions, while 46% expect to browse, but aren’t sure if they’ll purchase. 13% don’t plan to participate, with the remainder (12%) undecided.

Before the dates of Amazon's 2020 Prime Days were officially announced, 57% of consumers told The NPD Group they plan to do at least some, if not all, of their holiday shopping during the online event. New insights from NPD's annual holiday purchase intentions study reveal almost as many consumers feel they will get better deals during Prime Days than on Black Friday: 18% of consumers identified Prime Day as the time period they feel they will get the best deals possible, coming in just behind Black Friday at 20% of consumers. Cyber Monday came in third.

"The pandemic has changed retail, and the delayed timing of Amazon's Prime Days will be making its mark on the 2020 holiday season."
Marshal Cohen, NPD's chief industry advisor, retail

"The pandemic has changed retail, and the delayed timing of Amazon's Prime Days will be making its mark on the 2020 holiday season," said Marshal Cohen, NPD's chief industry advisor, retail. "Consumers are already entering this earlier-than-ever start to the holiday season with a different shopping mindset, and this is retail's chance to emphasize the notion that early is better when making holiday purchases – when it comes to inventory, shipping, and deals."

Further contributing to the impact of Prime Days on both holiday spending and retail overall, is the growing list of retailers planning their own early holiday promotions in October. Consumers will be watching all of the early deals, and 63% say they are very likely to compare Prime Day promotions with other retailer promotions before making a purchase, said NDP.

As 56% of millennials begin holiday shopping in October, the next few weeks will see a surge of online spending, both at Amazon and nearby competitors - namely Walmart,” Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce, told RIS.

Walmart’s new subscription program, Walmart+, is seeing rapid adoption, according to a new report from Piplsay Research, which found 11% of survey respondents have already signed up for the two-week-old program. Interestingly, nearly 20% said that they've migrated from Amazon Prime. The poll involved 20,000-plus Americans, so it's a notable sample size.

“Walmart is making headlines for October gifts and retail deals, meaning that more shoppers could be checking both sites before making a final purchase decision,” said Caporaso. “And with 45% of current Walmart+ members dual-enrolled with Amazon Prime, Amazon will have to promise faster shipping or other rewards to keep more items in Prime carts.

According to our research, 76% of consumers prepare and research prices and discounts before shopping on Prime Day, which means that they are already on the lookout for the lowest price tag,” he continued. “If Amazon is still able to trump Walmart+’s rewards with more products, better personalization, enticing deals, and faster last-mile delivery, it should still be able to hold onto its customers for the long term.”

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