Fulfillment challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic have reportedly caused Amazon to push its annual summer sale, Prime Day, from July to September this year.
That’s according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter who said unprecedented demand has strained its warehouses, prompting the delay.
Indeed, in a message to sellers on March 17, Amazon said it was prioritizing household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products in its U.S. and E.U. marketplaces to meet surging customer demand. It then extended the restrictions beyond April 5, but, in typical fashion, was light on details in its messaging.
Now, however—according to the WSJ, at least—the platform is hoping to return to normal. It’s even allowing sellers to send “unlimited shipments” of nonessential goods and is in a better position to fulfill orders more quickly.
A spokesperson said Amazon has nothing to share about Prime Day. In previous reports, the ecommerce giant was said to be delaying Prime Day until August.
Prime Day, which has been held in July since 2015 and was extended to two days last year, is an important moment for Amazon because it gives the platform an opportunity to show off the benefits of its Prime membership program, including Prime Music and Prime Video.
It works. In 2019, for example, Amazon said it added more new members on Prime Day than any other day in its history, which surely helped it hit the 150 million member mark later that year.
But Amazon also sells a lot of stuff during Prime Day—175 million items last year by its count, including: 100,000 lunchboxes, 100,000 laptops, 200,000 TVs, 300,000 headphones, 350,000 luxury beauty products, 400,000 pet products, 650,000 household cleaning supplies, more than 1 million toys, more than 200,000 LifeStraw Personal Water Filters and 150,000 Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips Kits.
But part of the beauty of Prime Day lies in its timing. It’s Amazon’s spin on the Christmas in July sale. These promotions work because they land in an otherwise slow retail period equidistant between the previous and forthcoming holiday seasons. And that is likely why as many as 250 other retailers copied Amazon’s summer sales strategy last year. According to Adobe Digital Insights, online retailers have seen an increasingly strong halo effect on Prime Day, with a revenue lift of 79% forecast in 2019—which is up from 60% in 2018.
So Amazon did the retail industry a favor by training consumers to anticipate summer deals. Now the question remains: Will U.S. consumers still be as eager for summertime deals in the fall?