Amazon’s popular Prime Day shopping event was reportedly set to return to its spot on the summer calendar after shifting to October last year. But new sources say the deal extravaganza might be moving even earlier into season.
Sources both within the tech titan and close to its operations told ReCode this week that the company is targeting mid-to-late June for the Prime Day festivities. An Amazon spokesperson declined to confirm the rumors, telling Sourcing Journal, “We haven’t made any announcements about Prime Day,” but a leaked posting from a seller forum on March 11 tells a different story. The web titan reportedly asked U.K. sellers to submit their Lightning Deals and Prime Member Vouchers for the event by April 23 and May 28, respectively, in order for their promotions to be considered for the event.
While it is unknown why Amazon would move its seven-year-old holiday, again, from its usual time slot in July, a source told ReCode that the move could have been prompted by Wall Street, or a desire to bolster sales during the second quarter of the year as opposed to the third. During Q2 last year—the peak of the first wave of pandemic lockdown orders—Amazon’s revenue skyrocketed 40 percent beyond average growth. The source believes that executives might now be keen to create another shopping frenzy during the same time period this year to help with financial comparisons.
Prime Day 2020—which took place on Oct. 13-14, three months later than usual—proved unusually lucrative for the company, pushing it past $100 billion in quarterly sales for the first time on record. Amazon’s fourth-quarter sales totaled $125.6 billion, a 44-percent increase from the same period a year prior. While the company keeps its Prime Day performance close to the vest, JP Morgan estimated that the holiday pulled in $7.5 billion, 42 percent more than it did in 2019.
Despite the prevailing theory behind why Amazon might want to host the deals days earlier in the summer, others believe its motivations could lie elsewhere.
“Some industry analysts believe Amazon’s motivation to potentially move its Prime Day to June is fueled by its desire to boost Q2 sales and show more favorably over last year’s COVID-driven spike,” said Meyar Sheik, president and chief commerce officer for Kibo, a cloud commerce platform.
“While there could be some validity to that belief, there is also another motivation for potentially moving the date to earlier in June versus the usual (pre-pandemic) July timeframe,” Sheik added. “With the rapid distribution of vaccines in the U.S. and other large international markets, more consumers will be looking to increase their discretionary spend, as well as return to physical retail stores and malls to shop. This could inevitably have a negative impact on online sales for Q2 and Q3 and will disproportionately affect Amazon, given its sizable ecommerce market share in the U.S. and abroad. By holding the Prime Day event earlier, Amazon will offset some of the negative impact of the re-opening wave in early summer, and compel consumers to wait for Prime Day deals across hundreds of key categories.”
This year, the behind-the-scenes Prime Day machinations come as Amazon is embroiled in a very public labor battle with workers in Bessemer, Ala., whose vote on whether to unionize concluded on March 29. According to reporting from The Guardian, The National Labor Relations Board began opening ballots and tabulating votes on Thursday. While 3,215 of 5,800 total eligible employees cast their votes last month, Amazon is now attempting to challenge hundreds of those votes, it wrote.
“We aren’t just bearing the brunt of this pandemic—for decades, we’ve been bled dry by a rigged, corporate-first economy,” American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) president Richard Trumka said in a statement Monday. “Amazon workers in Bessemer are tearing down that system, and America is standing with them.”
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), added that “People across the country and of all backgrounds recognize the systematic injustice that Amazon is inflicting on its own workers,” referring to widespread worker outcry regarding the company’s efforts to protect their health and safety throughout the pandemic, as well as the taxing physical demands they regularly face. “This fight is universal—it’s a struggle for the fundamental rights and dignities that all working people deserve,” he added.
RWDSU told The Guardian Thursday that the worker ballots challenged by Amazon will need to be addressed after the public count concludes. “As the ballot envelopes are opened and the ballots are counted there’s a possibility that more issues could impact the final results,” it said.