Summer has just begun and the calendar shows plenty of time before the holidays, but marketers know better. Retailers have to think about the holidays earlier and earlier, in response to many consumers doing just that. According to a National Retail Federation survey, 40% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping before November; 12% will do so before September. And that’s just The Holidays. The NRF’s survey didn’t consider all the other big shopping events between now and Black Friday, such as Fourth of July sales, back-to-school shopping… and Prime Day.

Amazon created its own Christmas in July in 2015, promising Prime members “more deals than Black Friday.” Each of the subsequent Prime Days have been record-breaking sales days for Amazon. During this year’s 48-hour sale, Amazon sold more than 175 million items, more than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Prime Day isn’t just a big day for Amazon. Other large retailers experienced a 68% increase in online sales, while niche retailers boosted ecommerce by 28%.


What Prime Day Means for Macy’s, Target, eBay, etc.

Surveying 200 retail executives last year, RetailMeNot found that 54% planned their promotions around Prime Day. Among them were Macy’s, Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond, Home Depot and Target. The latter’s answer to Prime Day ended up being one of the retailer’s biggest ecommerce days of 2018. This year, Target’s ‘Deal Days’ lived online, but it extended to BOPIS and included same-day grocery delivery. The latter is noteworthy as groceries are Amazon’s fastest-growing category. According to a Profitero study of 1,000 consumers in the U.S. and the U.K., 24% of Americans planned to make online grocery purchases during Prime Day.

Just as Prime Day was extended this year, so was Deal Days. Taking it even further, Walmart had four days of deals. Walmart’s annual mid-July extravaganza dates back to 2015, created in response to Prime Day. Then-President Fernando Madeira wrote on the company’s blog, “The idea of asking customers to pay extra in order to save money just doesn’t add up for us,” a reference to Amazon’s sale being members-only.

eBay also discounted defensively, offering customers 110% of the price difference if they can find an item for less on an approved competitors’ website. That list, of course, includes Amazon. eBay also promised extra discounts if Amazon’s website crashed during Prime Day, as it did for about an hour last year.

The Benefits of Brand Loyalty

Over the last four years, Prime Day has become an ecommerce extravaganza on par with Cyber Weekend. Those that participate experience a 30% increase in traffic from RetailMeNot. At the same time, those without deals saw 4% less traffic last year, relative to the rest of July.

All this, despite the fact that Amazon… just kind of made it up to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary. And while Amazon has experienced success on a grand scale, the concept of creating holidays isn’t unusual in the retail space.

Nordstrom has a huge Anniversary Sale every year, a popular enough event that People wrote an article on how to get the best deals. (Number one: Join the loyalty program for early access and extra points.) Similarly, Wayfair saw a 325% per-day increase in sales during the second annual Way Day in April.

The success of these made-up ecommerce holidays broadcasts a few things to retailers. For one, it proves once and for all that “the holidays” aren’t limited to those last few weeks of the year. It also underlines the importance of brand loyalty. We already know that loyal customers are the best customers and if yours are loyal enough, you can invent new shopping holidays.