Every day is Amazon Prime Day for Amazon

Amazon wants you to believe Prime Day is special.
Amazon wants you to believe Prime Day is special.
Image: REUTERS/David W Cerny
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Did you hear? Amazon Prime Day is coming! It’s almost here! Two days of epic deals! More than one million products on sale! The robots are readying! Lady Gaga is headlining!

Amazon Prime Day, for the uninitiated, is Amazon’s annual blow-out shopping event. Amazon first tried out Prime Day in July 2015, to mark its 20th birthday. The shopping holiday is a consummate American experience—think Black Friday, after-Christmas sales—and Amazon, two decades into the retail game, felt confident it could create one all its own.

“Step Aside Black Friday – Meet Prime Day,” read Amazon’s press release introducing the event.

The first Prime Day was a success, of course. Amazon was a giant—the giant—of online retail, and when it declared a shopping holiday, people paid attention. Over the past four years, Prime Day has grown from an Amazon-led festivity to summer’s biggest shopping event. Other retailers, eager or perhaps desperate to compete, have launched counter-programming, and in doing so legitimized Prime Day more than Amazon ever could.

This year Target, Best Buy, and Walmart are among the retailers entering the fray, with deals on everything from swimsuits to laptops to vacuum cleaners that run before, during, and after Prime Day. “Amazon Prime Day is no longer just about Amazon,” says Michelle Skupin, a spokesperson for coupons site RetailMeNot.

Prime Day is still mostly about Amazon. Investment firm Cowen estimates 63 million US households, or half of all households in the country, subscribe to Prime, Amazon’s $119-a-year membership that includes free two-day shipping, streaming music, streaming video, and unlimited photo storage, among other perks. More than two-thirds of those Prime households plan to shop on Amazon for Prime Day(s) 2019, according to market research firm The NPD Group, compared to 15% who plan to check out deals from both Amazon and other retailers.

More to the point, every day is Prime Day for Amazon. The company commands 47% of US retail e-commerce sales, according to industry researcher e-Marketer, nearly eight times the share of e-Bay, Amazon’s closest competitor. While the rest of retail is still scrambling to compete on free two-day shipping, Amazon plans to make one-day delivery standard.

Since Amazon launched its first Prime Day its quarterly sales have more than doubled.

Prime Day isn’t really about the one million product sales or that new line of Lady Gaga cosmetics. It’s the illusion that for online shopping to be all about Amazon is a special event, rather than the norm. When Prime Day ends, 63 million US households will still have their Prime memberships pulling them back to, where the perks and deals last all year long.