Prime Day, Amazon’s made-up annual shopping event, is upon us.
The two-day sale brings in billions of dollars for the company and has become one of its top-grossing events of the year. (The other: Cyber Monday.)
Here are five things to know about this year’s event, which begins at 3 a.m. Eastern time Monday. (Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)
1. What exactly is Prime Day?
Amazon created the shopping event five years ago as a way to drum up summer sales and boost membership for its $119-a-year Prime program. The company offers round-the-clock deals on everyday items, as well as exclusive concerts and gaming events for its members.
Like Black Friday, Prime Day has extended from a one-day sale into a days-long affair. This year’s event goes for 48 hours. The company says the deals are a “surprise,” though analysts say they expect discounts on electronics, apparel and home goods. (Last year’s bestsellers included the Instant Pot in the United States, laundry detergent in Mexico and Sonicare toothbrushes in China.)
Amazon says it sold more than 100 million products to its 100 million Prime members during last year’s sale. The company does not disclose Prime Day sales figures, but this year’s event is expected to bring in $5.8 billion, according to estimates from Coresight Research. That’s versus an estimated $3.9 billion last year.
2. What’s new this year?
Prime Day, historically, has been an opportunity for Amazon to market its own products. Last year the company said it sold a record number of Fire TV devices, Kindle e-readers and Fire kids tablets.
This year, it’s going a step further by encouraging Prime members to shop at its Whole Foods grocery stores, where it offered “Prime Day” deals for an entire week, starting July 10.
Also new this year: A random assortment of celebrity-created products, including deodorant from Kobe Bryant, whey protein from Mark Wahlberg and children’s hoodies designed by Hilary Duff.
3. Workers are protesting
The event has become a prime target for workers to air their grievances with the company. Amazon employees at a fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota, have announced plans to strike for six hours on Monday to protest what they say are grueling working conditions and productivity quotas.
The company has come under fire in recent years for the way it treats its workers. Last year, nearly 1,800 Amazon workers in Spain went on strike on Prime Day, and thousands of workers in Germany walked off the job.
In May, three Muslim workers from Amazon’s Shakopee warehouse filed a federal complaint accusing Amazon of religious discrimination and retaliation. The employees – all black women from Somalia – said the company did not provide them adequate time and space to pray, and assigned them more difficult work than their white counterparts.
Amazon, which has 630,000 employees, is one of the country’s largest private employers.
4. It’s not just Amazon – other retailers are also advertising deals
Amazon calls Prime Day a “two-day parade of epic deals.” But for its competitors, Prime Day is a two-day battle to redirect some of the billions in sales away from Amazon.
Analysts say they expect a “halo effect” for some of the country’s largest chains, which are likely to benefit from the invented shopping holiday. Overall, major retailers could see as much as a 79 percent increase in revenue during the sale, according to Adobe Digital Insights.
Walmart – Amazon’s largest competitor – is starting a day early, with a four-day sale beginning Sunday. Target and Ace Hardware are having two-day sales that coincide with Amazon’s. Macy’s is promoting “Black Friday in July” with free shipping on all orders throughout the weekend, while Old Navy is having its own week-long sale.
Ebay, meanwhile, is having a “Crash Sale,” a not-so-subtle reference to last year’s Prime Day, when Amazon’s website and app went down for about 45 minutes. Ebay says it will offer “a fresh batch of too-good-to-be-true deals” if Amazon suffers another computer glitch this year.
Nordstrom’s annual anniversary sale will begin on Friday.
5. Beware buyer’s remorse
Prime Day is all about impulse purchases. Amazon rolls out a steady stream of blink-and-you-miss-it deals to keep consumers coming back. New sales start as frequently as every five minutes, and many items sell out quickly. Amazon wants you to buy, and buy again.
But there are signs that buyer’s remorse may also be on the rise. Shoppers sent back 30 percent more Prime Day purchases last year than they did the year before, according to Adobe Digital Insights, “indicating that consumers are quick to buy items they don’t ultimately want.”
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