Amazon says this week’s Prime Day event ‘outpaced’ last year’s. But the ‘halo effect’ for other retailers was mixed.

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57 views Inc. on Thursday said that this week’s two-day Prime Day event “outpaced” the one the online retailer held last year, ahead of what is expected to be another holiday season driven by big discounts as shoppers continue to seek shelter from higher prices.

But as other online retailers try to ride the Prime Day buzz to boost their own fortunes, some data suggested that Amazon’s deals were too good for much of the competition to keep up.

“This event outpaced last year’s holiday kick-off event, with more Prime members shopping this year,” Doug Herrington, chief executive of Worldwide Amazon Stores, said in a statement Thursday. The event, known as Prime Big Deal Days, took place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The statement did not include specific sales figures. Amazon
when asked for specific numbers, said it didn’t have further details to offer beyond that statement, adding only that it was “pleased” with the results from the event.

said it expected this month’s Prime Day event to bring in $8.1 billion in sales, up 6.1% year over year. The firm said specific figures might be available next month.

Amazon, in its statement, said Amazon Prime members saved more than $1 billion across millions of deals during the event. U.S. Prime members, the company said, bought more than 25 million items with same-day or next-day delivery, with hundreds of thousands of items shipped within four hours after their purchase. The e-commerce giant said clothing, beauty products, home goods and toys were among the best-selling items.

Adobe expects U.S. customers to spend a record $221.8 billion online over the holiday season overall, a 4.8% gain over last year, while making cutbacks on things like faster shipping options in an effort to have a happier holiday season. More shopping, Adobe has said, could be crammed into big discount days offered by Amazon and other retailers, like Walmart Inc.
that have also rolled out discount events this month in an effort to compete.

How much of the so-called Amazon Prime Day “halo effect” — or the extent to which the shopping event increases interest at other retailers — is real depends on who you ask. Data from Salesforce
found that in the U.S., online sales for retailers that weren’t Amazon were down 1% across both days.

Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of retail at Salesforce, said in an interview that customers, still being squeezed by inflation, were likelier to make trade-offs and do more more research to find the best holiday deals. The company’s own data signaled that when shoppers looked at options beyond Amazon, they weren’t impressed.

“The muted buying that we saw over the last couple of days was in direct response to lackluster deals,” he said. “Consumers are used to playing and winning the game of ‘discount chicken,’ and this year will be no different.”

Still, other data shows that online retailers that offered discounts this week were rewarded with bigger sales increases. Retailers outside of Amazon that offered their own discounts during the two-day Amazon event saw a 38% sales gain on the first day, and 42% on the second, according to data from Criteo, which analyzed sales statistics for 24 million products across thousands of U.S. retailers.

However, a survey by Criteo found that Amazon Prime users have “growing concerns” about the subscription costs for membership. During the third quarter of this year, 33% of those surveyed said they were concerned about the price of membership, up slightly from 28% in the fourth quarter of last year.

And even as retailers roll out steep discounts, they’re still trying to manage investors’ expectations for the rest of the year, after the pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and higher prices reshape consumer spending patterns.

“Not many retail executives I’m talking to have a ‘I’m going to hit it out of the park’ mentality this holiday,” Garf said. “They’re looking at preserving margins, retaining loyal shoppers, increasing their market share and creating a great footing for what they’re anticipating to be a year of growth in 2024.”

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