Online shoppers gave mixed reviews to their experiences and its impact on holiday shopping. A quarter of survey respondents said they found this year's deals disappointing.

Amazon Prime Day deals didn’t wow U.S. shoppers, according to a Digital Commerce 360 survey of 875 online shoppers this month. Few of those surveyed expressed excitement and a quarter were disappointed.

Almost the same percentage of respondents found that deals met expectations (29%) as were disappointed (25%). While 18% believed there seemed to be a more limited offering, out-of-stocks were not cited as an issue, likely because items that retailers promoted were in stock. And 11% felt prices were higher than they could remember, both on Amazon and from other retailers.

Likely a more significant issue was the “so what?” factor, given the limited discounts that several of my coworkers cited.

“Rebought three items (two baby registry and one birthday present) that were discounted from when I purchased them and will save some money once I return the originals. There were a few other items I checked that were maybe a few dollars cheaper on Tuesday, but not enough to rebuy. Other items I recently bought were more expensive on Tuesday.”

Another shared, “Just made purchases based on some half needs, updates, etc., but only things we found that were a bigger deal than normal, not like 20% off a product that was $10, so we save $2.”

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As expected, Prime membership was strong. 78% of online shoppers surveyed signed up for the program already. Another 5% joined just before or on the day of the event. It is this base that serves as the foundation of their business.

$12 billion in sales

The numbers are in, and according to Digital Commerce 360, consumers worldwide spent more than $12 billion during Prime Day this year. That’s up 8.1% year over year from the same shopping spree in 2021, which ran from June 21 through 22. This is well-documented, so instead, I have chosen to cover the underlying consumer sentiment and the season that lies ahead.

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Our research indicated that interest in Prime Day was almost evenly divided among those who had high interest (32%), and some interest (34%). The remainder of respondents’ interest was limited or nonexistent. Those who saw it as just another holiday represented 34% of the surveyed audience.

No sense of urgency

My behavior will be classified as limited because I looked for a few moments and, at first glance, didn’t feel I needed anything. I easily let it go. I knew the items I might need would be available throughout the year, so I felt no sense of urgency. Others in my employee survey shared similar sentiments.

“I looked and realized I’d just wait until I really needed something.”

“Loaded up cart before Prime Day. Nothing in there was on sale, so I dumped most of it.” We saw from our survey that 24% prepped their carts as well.

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Most (58%) of online shoppers made purchases on Amazon Prime Day.

Toys always seem to have their day, as one new mother purchased them along with nursery items, a kid’s jacket and craft supplies (not on sale — just need it). Our office poll found an array of items purchased, from $40 shoes to an abundance of technology. That included Fire Sticks, Echo and Echo Dot (early deal).

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This year, given the state of the economy, some shoppers gravitated to replenishment products. Respondents cited household items like toiletries, cleaning supplies mostly, a small pot and soil. Of course, consumers made purchases across many categories, including everything from swim SPF shirts, replacement Canon camera batteries with a charger, vacuum lint cleaner attachment, pillowcases, rugs and a weedwhacker. One gentleman even mentioned shopping for others. He bought a phone for his grandparents. “They’re paying me back but are not big online shoppers.”

Quick facts: dollars and cents

On average, survey respondents purchased three products on Prime Days. The number of products purchased is as follows:

  • 1: 16%
  • 2-3: 42%
  • 4+: 42%

68% of online shoppers spent up to $250 on Prime Day, with Amazon Prime Day spend as noted:

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  • 41% spent $100 or less
  • 58% spent more than $100
  • 1% spent nothing

One woman’s candor maybe explains the mindset of the shoppers.

“I wish I was better organized to get more; I noticed a lot of deals. I guess I was not expecting them to be as strong. I am not ready for holiday shopping yet. I should buy more gifts!”

On the contrary, many others felt they were not “wow” enough to warrant their hitting the buy button.

Only 46% of online shoppers surveyed spent more during 2022 Amazon Prime Day than 2021. Meanwhile, on-par spending was 37%, and 17% even spent less.

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Factoring in the country’s economic state

I believe 2022 will be the “I spent the same” year. While the 8% gain in Prime Day sales is an admirable growth rate, it fails to wow and suggests that underlying issues in the economy and a lack of passion for buying now drove consumer behavior.

As one gentleman suggested, “I’m being more careful about spending due to inflation and economic uncertainty.”

Half of those responding did not comment on the country’s current situation. Yet inflation factored into Prime Day behavior for one in four respondents and it may be this holiday season’s biggest inhibitor.

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Just 38% of Amazon Prime Day buyers bought gifts as many shoppers may not be focused on the holidays.  Sentiments we heard included: “I am not ready for holiday shopping yet.”

“I wanted to get a head start on holiday shopping and was hoping that the larger toy items would be on sale, but most of them were not. In my view, the toys that were on sale did not have large enough discounts.”

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Four in 10 surveyed buyers made purchases beyond Amazon. Mass merchants and a range of specialty retailers benefitted from Prime Day dollars, as Walmart and Target seemed to be the winners. One Target buyer shared, “I wanted to shop on Target, too, but ran out of time. I didn’t need anything major, but I wanted to make sure I was stocked up.”

Deeper into the shopper’s mind

Following the train of thought of one season seasoned shopper tells you how a shopper’s mind really works.

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“I comparison-shopped Amazon against a couple of other retailers — DarnTough.com for hiking socks, and Bed Bath & Beyond and Target for a wedding gift. Neither Amazon nor Darn Tough had the specific socks I wanted in my size, so I’m going to run to REI and purchase them in-store when I make a return. And I decided to give cash instead of buying something off my niece’s registry. Easier than buying a gift on Target.com, which had the better price (but she’s not registered there) and then contacting BB&B to ask that they remove it from her registry. Target had some great deals, so I got suckered into $3.99 earrings, $10 purses and a pair of $8 shorts. All were 50% off, so some great savings that were too good to pass up!”

Topping the list were the 33% who saw advertising online. Somewhat fewer (21%) indicated they saw the Amazon Prime Day TV commercials. As an avid sports watcher, I must have seen it at least a dozen times. I have to be frank, though. I wasn’t sure why cocoa butter would be the lead product in the song.

A look at their experiences found that 36% of online shoppers made a personal purchase on Prime Day.

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What might be interesting to ponder is that only 16% made an impulse buy, which, to me, suggests they weren’t spending enough time on the sites. We also saw that respondents purchased from other marketplaces and multiple sellers.

“Rebought three items (two baby registry and one birthday present) that were discounted from when I purchased them and will save some money once I return the originals. There were a few other items I checked that were maybe a few dollars cheaper on Tuesday, but not enough to rebuy. Other items I recently bought were more expensive on Tuesday.”

“The wheels I have been looking for for a while, so I figured 20% off was good. Fire Stick, I have Roku and figured with the savings I would try the Fire Stick.”

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So what lies ahead appears to be the same old, same old. And just like survey respondents’ Amazon Prime Day purchasing was about the same, so too is their projection for the holiday season ahead. 64% of online shoppers anticipate buying about the same for the upcoming holidays.

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