amazon prime day

Amazon’s Prime Day is becoming a standout date on the promotional retail calendar and apparel is coming into focus, with more competitors following suit and holding sales.

Amazon has managed to create something of a fervor around Prime Day, which was first held in 2015 and last year marked the e-tailer’s best-ever sales day. The promotions are available to the company’s Prime members and this year the event was expanded to a 30-hour shopping bonanza that kicks off at 9 p.m. Eastern time and is projected to pull in sales of around $1 billion.

Deals during the promotion are revealed on a rolling basis, some within five minutes of one another. And while Amazon keeps most of the deals under wraps, it’s teased discounts between 30 and 50 percent on plenty of tech products. Apparel and accessories are seeing their share of discounts, as well.

Amazon said it is offering 40 to 50 percent discounts on some “Prime exclusive” apparel and handbags, along with 30 percent on apparel and 30 percent on some Under Armour and Adidas gear and apparel.

The apparel deals make sense, given Amazon’s fashion push, which is starting to noticeably gain ground with shoppers. Apparel sales on Amazon have already risen 15 percent to $1.45 billion for the first 23 weeks this year, according to new data from One Click Retail.

That has grabbed the attention of other merchants, including J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Target Corp. and eBay, which are holding competing sales around the same time frame as Prime Day.

“While last year there was little response by online retailers to Amazon Prime Day, this year we’ve witnessed a deluge of discounts ahead of July 11, particularly in apparel,” Edited analyst Katie Smith said.

Research from Edited, which is a retail data firm, found many companies have been offering an average discount of just under 40 percent over the last several weeks. But the number of products that were discounted for the first time shortly after Amazon revealed this year’s Prime Day increased 51 percent over a year earlier.

Penney’s this week launched a weeklong “cyber deal” sale event that started with 60 percent off of shorts and dresses, along with price cuts on certain tank tops and oxford shirts. The retailer will lay out new discounts every two days.

And eBay started pushing “summer deals” on Monday with up to 79 percent off a range of products, including tech, home and fashion. The promotions highlighted the fact that no membership is required to get the discounts on eBay and the marketplace is offering a price match guarantee on 50,000 items.

Target is taking a slightly different approach, by highlighting back-to-school discounts this week, as well as 30-percent-plus discounts on other items only online, like kitchen and homewares.    

“There are definitely advantages to competing directly with Amazon on Prime Day,” said Tom Caporaso, chief executive officer of Clarus Commerce, a marketing tech platform focused on developing loyalty programs. “One of the biggest is the fact that 85 million Prime members are already geared up to shop. So, if you can capture just a fraction of the wallet share on that day, it will definitely be worthwhile.”

For those who choose to compete, Prime Day has also given a boost to a typically slow time for retail. July was “the doldrums for retailers,” according to Caporaso, there’s now some buzz being created around Prime Day.

But competing prices and seasonal deals won’t be enough for retailers to keep their customer base from migrating over at some point to Amazon, according to Caporaso.

What makes [Amazon] different is that they are offering their members a premium experience, with benefits ranging from free two-day shipping to free streaming video, Caporaso said.

“Unless retailers start to replicate that premium loyalty experience, customers are going to keep getting sucked into the massive Amazon ecosystem,” he said.

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