Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Day, its annual mid-year sales event, will span over two days this summer on June 21-22, the retail giant announced today. Like the last two years, Prime Day deals will run for 48 hours. The sales event will be held in 20 countries this year, not including Canada and India, where events are postponed due to COVID-19.
Prime Day, which features deals on many products on Amazon.com, began in 2015 as a celebration of Amazon’s 20th year in business. It turned into a summer sales holiday designed to drum up additional business for Amazon—and the retailer’s marketplace sellers—before the holiday shopping season. In recent years, other large retailers have offered promotions on their own websites around Prime Day to take advantage of the additional online shoppers.
Prime Day 2021 falls less than a year after the 2020 sales event. Amazon postponed Prime Day last year to mid-October from its usual summer time slot because of the coronavirus pandemic, which shifted consumers’ shopping priorities, impacted retailers’ supply chains and inventory, and led more shoppers to Amazon.com to purchase essential items.
Prime Day also is a vehicle for Amazon to sign up more consumers for its Prime membership, a $119 per year or $12.99 a month loyalty program that offers such perks as free one- or two-day shipping, digital photo storage and video streaming. Prime Day deals are only available to Prime members, which now total 200 million worldwide, CEO Jeff Bezos said in his annual letter to shareholders in April. That’s up from 150 million global Prime members in January 2020 and 100 million in April 2018.
Prime Day 2020, Amazon’s sixth such event, generated a Digital Commerce 360-estimated $10.40 billion in sales globally over the two-day period, up 45.2% from $7.16 billion during the 48-hour event in July 2019.
Prime Day’s focus on marketplace sellers
For the second year in a row, Amazon seems to be focusing more on its marketplace sellers—which it refers to as small businesses—than in previous years. For example, it will once again have “curated small business collections” during Prime Day on Amazon.com/SupportSmall where consumers can browse marketplace sellers’ products by category, business location and collections such as Black-owned, woman-owned and military family-owned businesses.
Additionally, Prime members will receive $10 to shop on any products during Prime Day when they spend at least $10 on items sold by marketplace sellers starting June 7 through June 20. More than 300,000 sellers are eligible for the “Spend $10, Get $10 promotion,” more than twice as many as last year, the company says. This promotion is funded by Amazon. Echo device owners in the U.S., U.K. and Germany can say “Alexa, shop small business” to hear deals on marketplace sellers’ products eligible for the “Spend $10, Get $10” promotion.
The “Spend $10, Get $10” deal generated more than $900 million in marketplace sales in the two weeks leading up to Prime Day 2020, Amazon said last year. The best-selling categories for marketplace products in 2020 were home goods (specifically bedding products), electronics, nutrition and crafts.
Sales of marketplace sellers’ products grew nearly 60% during Prime Day 2020 and—most notably—grew faster year over year than sales of Amazon’s own products, which includes its private-label goods, Amazon devices and products it buys from manufacturers to sell itself. This suggests Amazon’s emphasis on small businesses at least in part helped boost marketplace sellers’ sales last year.
In the last few Prime Day events prior to 2020, Amazon’s marketplace sales as a share of total Prime Day sales declined, according to Digital Commerce 360’s analysis, because Amazon heavily promotes its own products. Its devices often top the list of best sellers each year. Previously, we estimated marketplace sellers’ sales only account for about a third of Prime Day sales. In 2020, however, we estimated marketplace sales’ share grew to approximately 35% of Amazon’s Prime Day sales, up from 32% in 2019. Prime Day 2021 will likely see a similar breakdown to 2020, Digital Commerce 360 forecasts.
How does Prime Day compare with other online shopping holidays?
After last year, there was speculation around if Amazon would permanently move Prime Day to the fall. It’s not surprising that Amazon didn’t go that route this year. In 2020, Prime Day was so close (about a month out) to the biggest holiday events of the year: Alibaba Group Holding Limited’s Singles’ Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And it’s likely Amazon faced more stiff competition in the fall than it does during a summer sales event.
In the U.S., retailers are promoting holiday sales earlier each year, some inching up to the beginning of October. Therefore, fall Prime Day sales compete with all other retailers’ Thanksgiving weekend holiday promotions, which are often some of the best promotions merchants offer.
Prime Day still lags behind larger shopping events such as the Cyber 5 holiday (the five-day shopping period beginning Thanksgiving Day) or Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba’s Singles’ Day event held in November each year. But when these sales events are broken down by day, Prime Day fares a little better. For example, given that Prime Day was a 48-hour sales event this year, we estimated that each of the two days generated roughly $5.20 billion in sales in 2020. That would mean Prime Day sales were ahead of online sales generated on Thanksgiving Day, and the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving Day 2020.