Prime Day is nearly upon us. But it’s not just for Amazon anymore, as the company’s self-invented retail holiday has, over its six-year existence, grown into a massive industry-wide promotional extravaganza for the entire retail segment.
Thus Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Ace Hardware, Home Depot and Lowe’s are just a short list of the many retailers offering multi-day promotional sales of their own that align rather nicely with the timing of Prime Day to capture the enthusiasm of the shoppers that Amazon has already primed, no pun intended, for bargain-hunting and spending.
But if retailers build it, so to speak, will consumers even come?
Amazon’s two-day Prime shopping event begins on June 21, and global Prime Day sales are expected to approach $12 billion, per eMarketer. “While growth will be slower again this year, Prime Day 2021 will still smash last year’s sales record by nearly $2 billion,” the news outlet reported.
Earlier this week, the Commerce Department released a weaker than expected report that indicates retail sales slid 1.3 percent last month. While the bulk of those declines came from big-ticket items like building supplies and automobiles, categories like Electronics and Appliances and General Merchandise also took a month-on-month hit.
That has left a “statistical question mark” hanging over the retail segment, casting a shadow over the retail rebound as consumer interest seems to be drifting toward dining out, self-care care and gathering with friends.
That means Prime Day, and all the similar sales events it has spawned, will roll into 2021 equipped with a whole new set of questions and things to watch as it unfolds.
This is particularly true this year because Prime Day is also the longest “day” in the history of time — lasting for roughly 168 hours including all the early offers on Amazon and all the other retailers who leapt on the bandwagon and decided to start their internal sales event a day or two earlier (looking at you, Walmart) in the hopes of getting a jump on Prime Day’s creator.
Net result? A whole lot of selling going on. And a whole lot of other things too, it seems.
Prime Day’s Evolution
The sales have already started on the Amazon site, with Echo products and Apple gear, for example, already available for big discounts. The sales have also started up beyond Amazon — Walmart and Target have both decided to kick of their big sale events in time for the weekend to catch the early shopping crowds with deep discounting on video games, electronics, apparel and kitchenware to lure consumers in to start their spending before the flag officially falls to start Prime Day.
Perhaps more interesting to note going into the 2021 edition of the shopping holiday is that more is different than just the date which is a few weeks ahead of the normal early July drop. This year, for example, instead of a big concert event to kick off Prime Day — as has become standard over the last few years — Amazon, fearing people might be a little burned out on that kind of streamed content after over a year of lockdown, is trying something new. For this Prime Day, Amazon will feature musicians H.E.R., Kid Cudi and Billie Eilish — for what will basically be lavish mini-musicals that shoppers can watch in the background while they browse.
The three specials-within-a-special, all about 25 minutes each, come from collaborative efforts of Amazon Prime, Amazon Music and the division that produces original film content, Amazon Studios. A collaboration, Amazon confirms, that came together very quickly.
Alaina Bartels, head of talent synergy and special projects for Amazon Studios, told Variety that filming only wrapped June 1. “It’s been a pretty crazy roller coaster. This idea came about, I want to say, eight or nine weeks ago, and we really hit the ground running, then filmed over the course of three weeks.”
Beyond the musicals, Prime enthusiasts will have plenty of livestreamed shopping opportunities throughout the day, with some deals only announced to those watching the stream.
Primed To Shop?
There are all kinds of questions to ask about Prime Day in 2021, particularly in the light of the news about waning retail sales:
Will the shopping holiday and the slew of sales it will bring along with it spark a rebound in shopping interest? Was May’s surprise slowdown at least partially generated by the fact consumers knew Prime Day was coming in June and waiting would mean buying at a discount? Can Amazon manage to stay the star of its own event, now that the rest of retail has followed suit so aggressively? And, perhaps most critically, what will be the weird item winner of the year — the thing no one knew they needed until they saw it on Prime Day?
Year 1’s 64-gallon drum of personal lubricant remains the all-time title holder in this category — though every year has their own entrant into the contest and we at PYMNTS remain steadfast in our hope that one day we will see the king dethroned with something even stranger.
But these questions, like most of the others, will remain unanswerable until Prime Day moves out of its pre-release phase and actually kicks off at midnight on Monday. Which means for now there’s little left to do but shop the pre-sales — and wait for the big show to begin.