Spending

Amazon Prime Day has been postponed — now experts say it might not happen at all

Twenty/20

Amazon Prime Day is not going to be in July this year, as is the norm. Instead, the company is hosting a summer fashion sale and says it is pushing Prime Day back to September. However, there is still no new, finalized date. 

The limited number of details surrounding when Prime Day will happen has led some experts to believe that the Prime Day sale, as we know it, might not happen this year at all. "They are kind of pushing it off because they literally don't have the ability to have Prime Day like we've come to expect it," says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com.

When asked if Amazon was still planning to have Prime Day this year in light of speculation that it won't, a spokesperson told Grow, "We don't have anything to share on Prime Day." 

Here's why Ramhold and other experts think Prime Day might not happen this year. 

Prime Day is meant to boost summer sales

The function of Prime is somewhat lost when it isn't during the summer, says Karan Girotra, a professor of operations, technology and information management at Cornell University. 

"Prime Day is a summer sale designed to increase sales in a slower period and to compete with a lot of offline sales at that time of the year," Girotra says. "So moving it to August or September, which is back-to-school season, makes less sense."

Last year, global sales from Prime Day exceeded $7 billion during a time of year that might otherwise be slow for the company, according to Digital Commerce 360.

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Winter holidays are the biggest spending holidays, according to the National Retail Federation. So, the closer to Black Friday and Christmas that Prime Day must be pushed, the less likely it is to happen, Ramhold says, as having back-to-back sales is probably not in the company's best interest. 

"We were expecting Prime Day in September," Ramhold says. "But at this point, we're kind of unsure it's even going to happen. If September comes and it's still not a viable sale for them to host, I could see them pushing it off" to 2021.

However, Girotra adds, this year, typical seasonal spending patterns might not apply. "Knowing what we know about Amazon, I think Amazon will look very closely at the data and will probably remain very agile and respond to it as the situation evolves," he says.

Prime Day is a summer sale designed to increase sales in a slower period and to compete with a lot of offline sales at that time of the year.
Karan Girotra
Professor of operations, technology and information management at Cornell University 

The coronavirus has disrupted the supply chain

Along with inopportune timing, there are many factors — including warehouse capacity, labor, and supply — that make hosting a successful Prime Day this year challenging, Girotra says. 

Amazon "shifted warehouse capacity to [prioritize] 'essentials' in March, and while they eased up on that in April, they are still nowhere close to the very wide assortment they used to carry, pre-Covid," he says. 

Additionally, suppliers of some of Prime Day's biggest sellers, like new tech gadgets, might not have the quantity of product due to manufacturing slowdowns during the pandemic, Girotra says.

The "most vexxing" issue, he says, is manpower. Normally, Amazon would have weeks to prepare for the uptick in sales that happens on Prime Day. The company would hire seasonal staff, increase hours, and order extra inventory. But this year, with precautions in place, that's not as easy. 

"I don't think there is as much room to do that this year," Girotra says. "They have been running full steam and there is very little slack to increase capacity and do all the planning needed to pull off these events. I think they are already doing very high volumes, and doing an event which involves a lot of operational planning does not seem worthwhile at this time." 

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