Prime Day is Christmas -- or maybe Black Friday -- in July. Amazon (AMZN -1.43%), through sheer retail muscle, has turned a random point in the heart of the summer into one of the biggest sales events of the year.

There's no real logic to it -- no attempt to connect it to the Fourth of July holiday, nor any compelling reason people should want to shop heavily right at this moment. But with the e-commerce giant offering its paying loyalty club members a giant (now two-day) sale just because it can, other retailers have found themselves forced to follow suit with competing sales.

Target (TGT 0.93%) has accepted the challenge: It's scheduling a big sales event of its own during precisely the same July 15 and 16 stretch as the online retailer. That's great for consumers, since warring sales means even lower prices, and Target entering the fray should increase the range of merchandise being discounted.

A Target store on Black Friday.

Will Target Deal Days drive Black Friday-like traffic? Image source: Target.

What is Target doing?

Target is piggybacking on Amazon's success, and accepting that its rival gets to decide that America gets a major mid-July sales event. Shortly after the online leader released the dates for this year's Prime Day, the brick-and-mortar chain followed by announcing "Target Deal Days." 

But while it might be playing follow the leader, it's not doing exactly the same thing. While Amazon's deals are only available for Prime members, Target's sale prices are for everyone.

Target, which called the event its biggest sale of the summer in a press release, is also trying to leverage the advantages it has over Amazon. It will offer sales on items in its popular owned-and-operated clothing and home brands, which have been a major strength for the retailer in its efforts to differentiate itself from its rivals.

The retailer will also heavily promote its same-day delivery and buy-online-pickup-in-store options, and offer curbside pickup at many of its locations.

"Last year's One-Day Sale was one of our biggest days of the year for online sales," said Chief Merchandising Officer Mark Tritton in a press release. "This year, we're giving guests more discounts across even more of our assortment with two days to save on hundreds of thousands of items and offering the best options in retail for delivery and pick up on their terms, including same-day."

Prime Day starts at midnight PDT on Monday, July 15, and will run for 48 hours. Target Deal Days will likewise run July 15 and 16; the company has yet to specify whether the availability of online sales will be time-zone based.

Good for consumers and retailers

The first Prime Day felt a bit like a clearance sale, with Amazon offering deals on a random assortment of products. But the evolution of the event has brought increased competition, and that has forced the online retailer to make its own event better -- and put more of its offerings on sale. In particular, prices on a compelling selection of Amazon's own electronics will rival their Black Friday lows.

Credit Amazon for building something from nothing, while Target earns points for playing along. The result is a win all around. It takes a relatively slow sales period and creates a consumer frenzy. And with the gift-giving events of Mother's Day and Father's Day in the past, and the December holidays well in the future, these sales provide consumers a great excuse to buy presents for themselves.