Will Amazon Prime Day Perform Better or Worse This Year?

Will Amazon Prime Day Perform Better or Worse This Year?

Written by: Stephanie Bariatti, SMB Media Marketing Consultant 


            The spending frenzy known as Amazon Prime Day will look a little different this year, but not necessarily in a bad way.  Due to the unprecedented events of the year, Amazon decided to push Prime Day from its usual mid-July date to October 13-14.  And eMarketer is predicting that Prime Day 2020 will generate $9.91 billion in worldwide sales for Amazon.  In comparison, 2019 brought in $6.93 billion worldwide.  So, despite pandemic and recession concerns, Prime Day should still be a slam dunk for Amazon.  



            Despite an uncertain economy, consumers still plan on spending heavily this year.  An August 2020 poll from researcher Piplsay found nearly half (48%) of US consumers budgeting to spend the same or more than last year on Prime Day compared with just 31% planning to spend less.  Perhaps this has to do with the timing.  While back to school items would traditionally be a major focus during this event, the timeline shift will result in different priorities. Amazon has now positioned Prime Day as sort of an early opening to the holiday shopping season.  With consumers spending so much so soon, it will be interesting to see if the rest of the season will be impacted – most notably Black Friday and Cyber Monday/Week.  


            However, even if you put the holiday aspect aside, there are still many products for which consumers feel an immediate need.  One can expect heightened pandemic demand for elearning, in-home entertainment, cooking, and sanitation products.  But don’t expect to see any deals on Lysol or toilet paper. 


            In addition, Amazon is launching some new products to lure shoppers and maximize sales on Prime Day.  At a September 24 event, they unveiled an array of new Alexa-enabled devices and upgrades to existing products.  Among the highlights were a revamped Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show, and a Ring home security drone.  Not all products unveiled at the event will be available for Prime Day, but it appears that some will.   


            Yet, Amazon will not be alone in their plan to attract consumers.  Walmart and Target both have plans to compete with the retail giant.  


            Walmart’s sale event, which it is calling the “Big Save,” will start a few days earlier on October 11 at 7pm ET and will end a day later on October 15.  Walmart has historically followed Amazon's lead and run its sales concurrent with Prime Day, but it seems they’re following suit this year.  The emergence of Walmart+, which launched September 15, could also mean deals with membership or a free trial.  It could also mean there will be sales or savings exclusive to Walmart+ before or during Prime Day.  Regardless, Walmart is expected to match much of Amazon’s Prime Day pricing when it goes live, even for those without a Walmart+ membership, so Walmart could be an option if you don’t want to shell out for Prime (or get a free Prime trial).  However, Amazon items and brands aren’t available at Walmart, so if you’re looking for those products, Amazon or Best Buy will be your best bet.


            We saw Target expand its efforts to compete with Prime Day with its Deal Days promotion in 2019, and Target has now announced they’ll be doing the same in 2020 with a Deal Dayspromotion that will run concurrent with Prime Day (October 13-14).  Target is expected to match many of the deals offered by its competitors, especially matching some of the better Apple deals out there.  The most notable benefits of shopping at Target versus Amazon are the possibility of store pickup, if that appeals to you, and the presence of Target’s RedCard 5% discount and promotions.  Additionally, Target frequently offers RedCard-exclusive promotions—while those haven’t been overwhelmingly good during Prime Day events and Black Fridays past, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them leveraged more this year.


            It is a confusing time for retailers, as no one really knows the best way to plan amid shifting seasonal spending patterns, challenged supply chains and fluctuating consumer demand.  Yet, it’s hard to ignore the precedent that Amazon sets, no matter how uncertain things may seen.  If you’re a retailer, your best bet is to hop on the deal bandwagon to try to steer as many customers your way.  And if you’re a consumer, do your homework and compare prices.  There is sure to be competitive pricing over the course of the week, even beyond Amazon, Walmart and Target. 


Stephanie Bariatti works as a Consultant and Project Manager for SMB Media Consulting.  She has had extensive experience with many facets of advertising and media, having worked for and with creative agencies, production companies and research departments.  She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, three lovable little boys and a snuggly Golden Retriever.