Online retailing colossus amazon.com Inc. will hold its annual “Prime Day” shopping event on October 13 and 14 this year, setting a date for its e-commerce surge that will fall closer than ever to the start of the traditional holiday peak shopping season after being postponed twice by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Usually held on July 15, the Prime Day sale was originally delayed until September, and then bumped even further down the calendar as the health crisis drove concerns about the safety of warehouse employees working in close proximity to each other, even as the virus pushed the U.S. into a economic recession that has put many people out of work and altered consumers’ buying patterns.
In the midst of that disruption, Seattle-based Amazon has seen surges of demand for many products as Americans honored policies to slow the spread of the coronavirus by avoiding retail stores and staying at home, often turning to e-commerce sites to do their shopping. The company will now see even bigger jumps in parcel volume at its DCs, as the company moves ahead with an event that offers savings and discounts over a two-day period to consumers who subscribe to its $150-per-year Prime program.
Since the event falls during a time when many retailers have had to shutter their brick and mortar stores to scale back operations during the pandemic recession, Prime Day this year could act as “a barometer of economic recovery and consumer spending” by recording a virtual survey of post-Covid customer trends, according to PingPong Payments, a San Mateo, California-based payment service provider for cross-border e-commerce sellers.
Given Amazon’s market share, the stakes are high; the company last year recorded Prime Day sales of over $7 billion, surpassing Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined and ringing up $2.29 billion for third-party retailers selling their goods through Amazon’s marketplace program. According to PingPong, the online marketplace has become the new “virtual mall,” offering a lifeline to retailers trying to grow their businesses in a recessionary market.
“This will be a make or break event for some Amazon sellers,” Ning Wang, PingPong’s co-founder and chief business officer, said in a release. “This delayed Prime Day gives merchants a window of opportunity to catapult into the lead in the run up to the festive season, with the first major online sales event post-Covid.” Wang pointed to the 82% of U.S. households that have Prime memberships as a measure of the opportunity for online retailers trying to make up for lost sales during pandemic lockdowns.