Amazon has announced that this year’s Prime Days will be held on July 12th and 13th. We dove into data from past Prime Days to understand what this year’s online retail holiday may have in store for Amazon, Target, Best Buy, and Walmart.
The Evolution of Prime Days
Amazon Prime Days have been around since 2015, and the online retail holiday seems to get bigger every year. To understand how significant Prime Day has been to Amazon’s online retail business, we looked at the overall weekly visits to 20 Amazon warehouses throughout the United States. All centers analyzed have been in operation since 2017. While these warehouses represent only a fraction of Amazon’s total fulfillment network, they still offer valuable insight into the success of this relatively new retail holiday.
Charting weekly visits to the 20 Amazon warehouses over the past five years reveals clear spikes in visits over the week of Prime Day during what appears to be an otherwise slow period. This indicates that Amazon has successfully created an annual retail holiday that consistently drives higher than average online orders as reflected through increased warehouse foot traffic.
What Can We Learn From Recent Prime Days
Over the past five years, weekly warehouse foot traffic during the week of Prime Day was significantly higher than its weekly year-to-date average. In 2020, for example, foot traffic to the 20 Amazon warehouses the week of October 12th was 25.9% higher than the 2020 year-to-date weekly average.
In 2021, Prime Day increased weekly foot traffic at Amazon warehouses by 14.0% relative to the year-to-date weekly average – still a boost, but the smallest increase in the past five years.
The relatively smaller boost in foot traffic during the week of Prime Day 2021 does not mean Prime Day is losing steam. Instead, this was likely a result of increased overall online demand in the period preceding Prime Day as a result of pandemic driven behavior shifts.
Prime Day’s Impact on the Wider Retail Landscape
It also looks like Amazon has successfully cemented Prime Day as a full-fledged online special sales event, and other retailers are enjoying a piece of the pie. Third-party merchants are playing an increasingly central role in Prime Day’s success, and other retailers such as Target, Best Buy, and Walmart have been offering Prime Day deals of their own. As Amazon’s competitors become more aggressive pushing its own online Prime Day and more companies embrace the new retail holiday, the gap between Prime Day and regular fulfillment center foot traffic may shrink – but that doesn’t mean that Prime Day is becoming any less important.
For the past couple of years, Target, Walmart, and Best Buy have all scheduled sales events during Amazon’s Prime Day. But although these companies have an extensive brick and mortar store fleet, Target, Best Buy, and Walmart have traditionally limited Prime Day events to their online channels. So while the three retailers – and especially Best Buy – did see a Prime Day offline visit bump in 2020 and 2021 from customers testing products or picking up their online orders, brick and mortar has not played a central role in Amazon’s competitors’ Prime Day strategy.
Several factors may account for the absence of a Prime Day push on the brick and mortar front. Amazon usually announces the dates for Prime Day quite close to the day, which may not give brick and mortar retailers enough time to get extra inventory and sales staff. This could explain why, when Target held a second, independent Deal Days event in October 2021, the brand did actually extend discounts to its in-store offerings as well.
Prime Day was also conceived as an online-only event, and so other retailers likely understand that their Prime Day campaigns should target customers who are poised to buy a similar product on Amazon rather than brick and mortar customers. And since Walmart, Best Buy, and Target all invested significantly in their e-commerce infrastructure over the pandemic, these retailers may not feel the need to supplement their digital offerings with in-store promotions. As Amazon continues expanding offline, it looks like traditional brick and mortar retailers are getting increasingly comfortable online.
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