It's going to be a busy week for deal seekers next week. Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) now-iconic Prime Day is coming, and mass-market retailers Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Target (NYSE:TGT) are trying to crash the party with their own mid-October sales events.
Prime Day has taken place in July every summer since Amazon created the shopping holiday in 2015. Amazon decided to bump Prime Day back by three months this year in response to the pandemic, as the company wanted to prioritize orders for personal protection equipment and other essentials. No good idea goes unduplicated in the business world, so it wasn't a surprise last week when Target announced that it would schedule its Deal Days blowout for the same two days as Amazon's Prime Day. This week, Walmart also announced that its own Big Save sales event would cover the same dates as its rivals.
Shoppers love bargains, but is too much of a good thing a bad thing? What if Amazon, Target, and Walmart host monster sales events, but nobody comes? It's a scary consideration, but it could very well play out that way.
Bowling for shoppers
The deal seeker's dance card is pretty well checked off for next week.
- Amazon Prime Day: Oct. 13 and Oct. 14
- Target Deal Days: Oct. 13 and Oct. 14
- Walmart Big Save: Oct. 11 through Oct. 15
The timing isn't ideal. A mid-October sales blitz comes too late for the back-to-school shopping season. It's also too early to start thinking about holiday shopping. Will folks show up if they think that better deals are just around the corner come Black Friday and Cyber Monday a month later?
We're also waist-deep in a recession. There is no such thing as a great deal for would-be shoppers with no disposable income. One can argue that Amazon probably figured that there would be a second round of stimulus checks going out about now, but that's apparently not going to happen in time to drum up confidence ahead of next week's buffet of bargains.
None of these three companies need a sales event to work right now. Amazon's sales soared 40% in its latest quarter, twice as fast as the pace it posted a year earlier. Walmart is also coming off a blowout report that showed e-commerce sales nearly doubling and U.S. comps rising a hearty 9.3%. Revenue soared a head-turning 25% in Target's latest quarter, with its earnings per share shooting 85% higher.
Amazon, Walmart, and Target are thriving right now because they never closed like traditional retailers at the onset of the pandemic. They grew in popularity as consumers faced limited shopping options. This isn't the kind of market share you just relinquish now that more chains are open for business.
However, the timing of this trio of shopping holidays is troublesome. You have three rock stars jamming on the same small stage at a time when consumers' minds focused on the upcoming presidential election and COVID-19.
All three companies will ultimately brag about how the events went. They didn't get this far by being modest. However, don't be surprised if Prime Day, Deal Days, and Big Save wind up being more cacophony than music festival on a tiny stage when nobody's paying attention.