Amazon Prime Day 2020: What the delayed event means for retail and consumers

October 8, 2020
5 min read

This year Amazon will be holding its annual Prime Day event, available for Prime members, three months later than usual on October 13th and 14th. Mintel analysts from the US and Europe explore what we can expect for each region in terms of consumer spending, competitors and how this will affect the upcoming Black Friday sale.

Diana Smith, Associate Director for Mintel’s US Retail and Apparel Reports:

Per the usual, Prime Day will offer special savings on thousands of items across product categories. Some early Prime Day deals are already available including discounts on Fire TVs, Blink mini cameras, and Amazon Ring. Amazon is also offering an extra $10 credit for those who shop select small businesses and a “Watch this deal” button through its mobile app that will notify shoppers when specific products go on sale. 

Other major retailers will hold their own sales events

Target is bringing back its Target Deal Days promotion on the same days as Prime Day. The sale will feature significant deals on twice as many items as usual. Similarly, Walmart will hold a “Big Save” promotion, a five-day event on October 11-15. Like Target, this will also feature “Black Friday-like” deals on thousands of items across categories. Walmart will also reportedly offer free shipping on eligible orders over $35, but it remains to be seen if Walmart+ members will earn rewards from Big Save purchases. Other smaller retailers will also likely join in on the shopping frenzy.

This event will prompt the unofficial start of winter holiday shopping

According to Mintel research on winter holiday shopping, a third of shoppers conduct the brunt of their holiday shopping between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, while a quarter shop prior to Thanksgiving and two in five shop year-round to take advantage of deals. While quarantined at home, consumers have time to think ahead to holiday preparations; a quarter of shoppers admitted they were likely to shop earlier than usual this year to take advantage of summer sales. While we believe that the power weekend, Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, will still comprise the majority of winter holiday sales, the sales cycle will be flattened with a much heavier than usual lift in October.

Many consumers will also be celebrating the winter holidays on a budget this year. Per Mintel’s Global COVID-19 tracker data, more than half of US consumers do not have much discretionary income left after paying for necessities, if they are even able to take care of the essentials at all. This, coupled with an unemployment rate of 8.4% as of August, means that consumers will be very strategic about where and how they shop this year, and will more diligently align their shopping with the best deals, starting with Amazon Prime Day. More than two in five of winter holiday shoppers agree it’s no longer critical to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday because good deals can be found at any time. Strategic deal-seeking and increased levels of online shopping will nearly assure that Amazon Prime Day will once again reach record heights, even with the displaced timing. 

While much uncertainty surrounds the upcoming 2020 winter holiday season, with three unique factors impacting it – a global pandemic, recession and a US election – one thing is for sure: Amazon will once again win big.

Nick Carroll, Associate Director of Retail Research, UK:

Delayed from its usual position in July, Amazon Prime Day is the retailer’s single largest trading day and in its own words is a way to give back to Prime members. 

Amazon is the single largest online retailer in Europe and due to its scale, it has become established as a key trading day in retail calendars across Europe, particularly in markets such as France, Germany, Spain and the UK, where Amazon is the dominant online player. 

Although the event is exclusive to Prime members, this does little to limit its impact. In the UK, of those consumers with access to Amazon Prime, nearly half of them purchased items during Prime Day 2019. So whilst an ‘exclusive event’ it is one that, accounting for non-internet users, over 10 million shoppers in the UK engaged within 2019.

The shift from July to October in 2020 is significant and will mean Prime Day marks the kick-off for festive spending across Amazon’s key European markets

Indeed the tag line for this year’s event is ‘save big, save early’ and is clearly targeted at capturing early festive spending and stealing a march on rivals in this crucial period. Earlier festive spending, known as ‘Christmas creep’, has been a trend for a number of years: in 2019, nearly two in five UK consumers had begun their Christmas shopping before November. However, in a period where there is uncertainty around visiting stores and around delivery times we expect early spending to be a bigger feature than ever for the festive 2020 period across Europe. 

This is not just a commercial advantage, but a logistical necessity of the upcoming period. More shoppers than ever will look to shop online in the final quarter of 2020, and as we saw earlier this year during the various lockdowns across Europe this rapid ramping up of online demand places significant strain on retailers logistic networks. 

Therefore, spreading out demand across October, November and early December is imperative. Amazon is not the only retailer encouraging shoppers to ‘shop early’ and for other retailers, the period between the spikes in demand on Prime Day and Black Friday, and Single Day in markets such as Spain where this is becoming more established, will be crucial to reducing pinch points in demand and also cutting through the noise in what will be a heavily promotional period. 

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