Amazon (AMZN -1.48%) is up against a tough year-ago comparison this quarter. Last year, Prime Day fell in the same quarter as the holidays, providing the quarter with an extra boost. Investors, of course, can credit COVID-19 lockdowns for the unusual timing for Prime Day last year.

Fortunately, Amazon had a trick up its sleeve to give the fourth quarter of 2021 a shot at outdoing the strong year-ago quarter. The e-commerce giant announced on Monday morning that it was unveiling "Black Friday-worthy deals" earlier than ever. 

Boxes in an Amazon fulfillment center.

An Amazon fulfillment center. Image source:

Black Friday: Starting today?

While the official famous Black Friday shopping holiday is on Nov. 26, the discount shopping season has steadily moved earlier over the last few decades, more recently pushing into late October. But Amazon wants to capitalize on the opportunity even earlier.

Black Friday-like deals begin today, Amazon announced Monday morning.

In a press release on Monday, Amazon executive Dave Clark said, "Customers can confidently shop early knowing they are receiving incredible deals starting today, letting them get a head start on their holiday to-do lists so they can truly enjoy the holiday season."

While Amazon will be rolling out new deals every day, some of the notable deals already surfacing on Amazon's website include up to 30% off on Hasbro games, up to 35% off Instant Pot products, 15% or more on select furniture, $50 off Amazon's Fire HD 10 tablet, 46% off the first four months of the company's Audible Premium Plus service, and more.

Expect big sales in the fourth quarter

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Amazon's fourth quarter. Thanks to the holidays, it's always the company's biggest quarter of the year. And 2021 will likely be no exception. On average, analysts are expecting fourth-quarter sales of $143 billion. This would be the company's highest-revenue quarter ever, well ahead of the $126 billion in net sales achieved in the fourth quarter of 2020.

But investors should note that the growth rate would mark a meaningful deceleration from Amazon's recent momentum, reflecting analysts' belief that tough year-ago comps will weigh on the company's growth rates in the second half of the year. After posting 27% year-over-year net sales growth in the second quarter, the consensus analyst forecast calls for 16% growth in the recently ended (but not yet reported) third quarter and 14% growth in the fourth.

But could Amazon's move to launch holiday deals so early help the company do better than analysts are currently modeling for?