In a research note published Friday, BoA Securities analyst Justin Post estimated that last week’s two-day event came in about 25 percent below the main Prime Day sale hosted over 48 hours in July. Fewer people were talking about the event on Twitter, where “mentions of the Prime Early Access event were also down about 70% relative to the Prime Day in July,” he wrote.
Still, the bank sees Prime Early Access as “incrementally beneficial” to Amazon, helping to not just promote awareness of the Prime brand but also to mitigate the peak-season supply chain by spreading demand earlier into the calendar.
Amazon said the two-day period drove more than 100 million sales for third-party sellers, most of which are small to medium-sized businesses. Nearly one-third of consumers say they purchased gifts during the first 30 hours of the sale, and 25 percent said they purchased shoes and apparel, according to market research group Numerator. Average order values totaled $46.28, and more than half of all households shopping the sale had placed two orders or more at the 30-hour mark, bringing the average spend per home to just under $100. More than one in 10 households spent over $200 in a single order.
The Amazon Essentials private brand of women’s apparel was a top sales driver, along with gifts like Amazon Photo Projects and gift cards. Kids toys were also in high demand, with 24 percent of shoppers saying they bought items like games—the first time that such products made the list during an Amazon event. Other top categories included household essentials (29 percent), health and beauty products (24 percent), and consumer electronics (21 percent). Amazon said seasonal decor like wreaths, garlands, decorative lights, and Halloween costumes sold through at a high rate.
Amazon’s attempt to jumpstart holiday sales seems to have paid off—31 percent of customers bought holiday gifts during the Early Access sale, and 14 percent said they finished all or most of their gift buying. Nearly all of those (96 percent) who browsed or bought on Tuesday and Wednesday said there was a high likelihood or certainty that they would shop again on Amazon for holiday items within the next three months.
“Our Prime Early Access Sale was a great kickoff to the holidays, and the best part is that it’s only the beginning,” Doug Herrington, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Stores, said on Thursday.
“We know our employees, vendors, and selling partners show incredible dedication to delivering a great experience during the holidays, and we are grateful for their continued commitment to serving customers during this special time of the year,” he added.
Amazon isn’t the only retailer getting people shopping. Forty-three percent of those who engaged with the Prime Early Access sale also shopped at other early holiday promotional events, like Target Deal Days (27 percent) during Oct. 6-8, or Walmart’s Rollbacks and More (24 percent) on Oct. 10-13.
Awareness of the Early Access Sale has been lower than Prime Day, with 9 percent of shoppers who visited Amazon this week saying they weren’t aware of the sale beforehand, compared to just 5 percent who said the same during July’s sales event. The company announced the Early Access event just weeks ago after early rumors. Loyal Prime members seemed to drive business as 25 percent of Early Access shoppers said that the sale didn’t influence their decision to shop on Amazon during the sale. More than half (57 percent) of those who participated in Early Access also shopped Prime Day in July.
Notably, 80 percent said inflation influenced their shopping behavior, as Post’s research note said the “Numerator data could suggest consumers more value conscious (lower AOVs) this holiday.”
“I do think that a we’ve seen it it’s a permanent shift to an earlier calendar” when it comes to beginning holiday shopping, according to Coresight founder and CEO Deborah Weinswig, who said the economic downswing is solidifying an October start to seasonal sales. “I think there are concerns over higher peak costs,” she said. “Everyone is keeping their eye on the prize, and they can make a decision quickly when they see the right item at the right price.”
Consumers have been doing their due diligence to make sure they’re transacting wisely in light of financial strain. “I do think you have a consumer doing more research before they make purchases; they’re thinking about things in different ways in terms of refurbed, previously loved merchandise,” especially electronics, appliances and home goods.
Weinswig also noted the growing importance of a loyalty program’s benefits. Amazon’s Prime membership and its fast, free shipping are still a strong sales driver, and the e-tailer’s credit card offers cash back on purchases from Amazon and Whole Foods and a $100 gift card upon approval. “We are seeing greater engagement, and more retailers and brands are communicating via their loyalty programs,” she added. “That seems to be working incredibly well, and investing in that seems to have a much higher ROI than it has in the past.”