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Even a Shaky Start Can’t Quash Amazon Prime Day Sales

Website crashes. App glitches. Links directing users to graphics of dogs instead of much-hyped deals.

After weeks of buildup, Amazon Prime Day got off to a tumultuous July 16 start marked by poor performance uncharacteristic of a company with cloud services that power myriad sites around the web. But even with all of the headline-making technical difficulties, data supplied by e-commerce pricing company Feedvisor indicates that those first rocky hours of Prime Day still drove a remarkable year-over-year sales lift that could help Amazon meet or exceed a Coresight Research forecast calling for $3.4 billion in sales.

Consumers who managed to access the Amazon website and mobile app snapped up some of the more than 1 million worldwide deals in electronics, home goods, apparel and more. The first 12 hours of Prime Day 2018 garnered 69 percent more orders in relation to 2017, according to Feedvisor, while total cumulative sales jumped 89 percent in dollar value. However, this year’s 36-hour sale kicked off much earlier in the day—3:00 p.m. EST—while last year the festivities commenced well into the evening hours at 9:00 p.m. EST, so looking at the year over year numbers isn’t a direct comparison, Feedvisor warned. The company sources data from clients that sell on the Amazon platform.

Over the first 12 hours of Prime Day, pet products put in the best performance with sales climbing 167 percent from 2017’s event, reflecting Amazon’s recent investments in the furry-friends category. Up 124 percent year over year, office products sold strongly as well. Feedvisor said it was “surprised” by robust sales up 122 percent across sports products, which could be driven in part by preparations for the upcoming school year.

Demand for Prime Day varied by geography. Over the first 12 hours of the event, consumers down south eagerly embraced the deals, with sales in Texas and North Carolina up 99 percent and 91 percent year over year, respectively. California shoppers emerged as Prime Day enthusiasts as well, pushing sales 81 percent higher from the prior-year period.

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Now in its fourth year, Prime Day has spawned an industry-wide phenomenon that’s prompted retailers across the sector to offer their own deal days—many of which tout “no membership fees required” in a knock against Amazon’s $119 annual subscription charge. The sales event is seen by some as an inventory and logistics “dress rehearsal” ahead of the much larger holiday shopping season, yielding important clues about the products and categories driving consumer interest and activity.

Vice president of Prime Cem Sibay said Monday’s website issues have been fully resolved. “We love dogs at our Amazon offices, not on our store.”