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As a youngster it was a concept that brought glee to the hearts of many a child. Christmas in July! What a great idea. The very thought of having another bite of the gift-receiving apple five months early was an idea that seemed too good to be true. And of course, for the throngs of the many anticipating munchkins, it turned out to be just that. For retailers who desperately needed a mega shopping season in the middle of the year and in the dog days of the summer, the concept promised a chance that profits would cross the red-line into the black territory a few months earlier in the year. While persistent attempts at an early reprieve from red territory achieved inconsistent results, each post-Independence Day saw retailers marching out their best individual efforts to move the needle of profitability forward.
In 2015 mega retailer and market disrupter Amazon debuted Prime Day, a 36-hour effort to replicate the traditional Black Friday shopping extravaganza that has become essential to retailers’ strategy of turning the page to profitability and survival. The inaugural event coincided with Amazon’s 20th Anniversary and the results once again proved the online retailer’s ability to move the sales needle and demonstrate its ability to impact the entire retail industry. This year the event is being expanded to 48 hours and includes more than one million deals as Amazon attempts to advance its quarterly sales, entice new membership in the Prime program and ensure its leadership position in an extremely competitive retail environment. Charlie O’Shea, Vice President of Moody’s says, “This is yet another example of the flexibility Amazon has to push the pricing envelope, in this case to broaden and deepen the benefits to Prime members, which creates a conundrum for all retailers, with the smaller, financially weaker retailers the most at risk.” Smart retailers of all dimensions may have a prime opportunity to ride Amazon’s promotional coattails. A recent survey by analytics agency Adlucent, indicated that 72% of shoppers will go beyond Amazon to comparison shop.
Amazon chasers Walmart and Target are vowing to challenge the market leader’s efforts on July 15th and 16th by offering thousands of deals of their own. Many discounts will be on items rarely seen in price-reduced territory. Leading brick and mortar retailers are coordinating their July marketing events to coincide with Prime Day. Adlucent advises, “Remember that brands can do their best by striving to be as agile as possible and understand that Amazon may throw some curve balls. If possible, brands should use the opportunity to build sales velocity on their existing listings or launch new ones in anticipation of Prime Day. If they are able to run additional promotions, increase budgets or get in on deals, they’ll have the best chance of success on the big day.”
The big day may fall short of all those youngsters’ visions of Santa arriving on a surf board in his Speedo, hanging ten and dropping presents at their feet in the cabana on the beach, but enlightened retailers may just get a much needed present in the form of an oasis of increased sales in the desert of the slumping late-summer season.