Amazon Prime Day has launched today, kicking off the crucial Christmas trading period and piling the pressure on retailers to keep up with online discounting.
The Amazon sale, which will see the e-commerce giant slash prices on 13 and 14 October, was postponed from July, bringing it closer to the Black Friday discounting bonanza and the festive shopping period.
Retail experts have said the proximity to Christmas could prompt struggling retailers to ramp up discounting and promotions in order to compete with Amazon’s price cuts following months of tepid sales during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, low consumer confidence and rising unemployment will see shoppers seeking the best bargains in the run-up to the festive season.
Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets commentator at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “With another bumper two days of sales expected, high street retailers are going to have to come up with some beguiling offers to lure people away from virtual tills.’’
Andy Halliwell, director and retail analyst at digital consultancy Publicis Sapient, said this year’s Prime Day, which is open to Amazon subscribers, “will likely be a feeding frenzy”.
“With economic and unemployment uncertainty, people will be more reliant on discounts this year to help with their Christmas shopping,” Halliwell said.
He added: “Prime Day usually falls in July, but by moving it three months out it’s a way of improving sales revenue in the crucial last quarter.
“Whereas last year, pre-Covid, many retailers ran a counter-strategy around Black Friday, where they opted out of sales as they didn’t want to compete with Amazon.
“This year, we will see a lot of sellers and retailers looking to shift stock early on in the season to help secure their fourth quarter revenues in advance of an anticipated UK lockdown.
“However, we may see retailers try and spread-out demand by running a full week of promotions instead of restricting it to just one day in an effort to try and avoid a sudden warehouse or fulfilment surge.”
However Adobe retail expert Brian Green said the discount day could create a “halo effect” for other online retailers as shoppers hunt out the best available deal.
He said: “Online shoppers might be eyeing up products on Amazon, but now more than ever, they’re doing their due diligence and checking prices on competing sites, too – especially as the majority are now working from home.
“Matching prices is one place for brands to start, but they can also ensure the online experience sets them apart. With great website design, personalised content and offers, friction-free payment and seamless delivery, they can benefit from Amazon’s halo effect at a time when they need it most.”