While many retailers offered promotions during the first day of Amazon Prime Early Access Days, fewer opted to tie discounts directly to the event.

It’s six weeks until Thanksgiving weekend, and deal-hunting consumers easily found promotions during Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Early Access sale, both on Amazon.com and beyond. Like during previous Amazon sale events, retailers capitalized on consumers shopping online and possibly price checking, with their own sales. According to a Digital Commerce 360 website check of a panel of 100 retailers, 80 ran some kind of promotion on Tuesday, Oct. 11. 

Amazon Prime Early Access runs Oct. 11-12. The sitewide sale spans multiple categories. Digital Commerce 360 reviewed how retailers across the Top 1000 approached this year’s additional Amazon Prime sale. Amazon.com Inc. is the No. 1 in the 2022 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, which ranks the largest North American e-retailers by web sales.

Amazon Prime Day vs. Early Access

Of those 80 retailers running promotions, 18.8% of retailers competed directly with Amazon, citing a Prime Day Early Access-like sale. That’s down from the 38.0% of 79 retailers that ran promotions during Amazon’s July 11 and 12 Prime Days

17.5% of retailers tied promotions directly to a holiday, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving weekend or Halloween. That’s down from 44.3% of retailers that tied promotions to a holiday (including Prime Days) in July. Retailers that linked promotions to the holidays included mentions of Black Friday (28.6%), Christmas (35.7%), Halloween (21.4%) and Thanksgiving (7.1%).


And 5.0% of retailers used specific Prime-related language and timed promotions on their homepages during the Prime Early Access event or around these days. That’s down from 15.2% of retailers during July’s sale days.

Retailers varied the language used to promote sales. 15.0% of promoting retailers included one of the following keywords: holiday, Prime, early access, gifting and X-day sale. 

In July, 85.7% of retailers with holiday promotions cited Prime Day directly, while also noting Back to School (14.3%), Black Friday (8.6%) and 4th of July (2.9%). 

Fifteen retailers emphasized competition with Amazon’s Prime Early Access Days, including Macys.com, which tied both Prime and holiday language for its two-days-only “Holiday Early Access” sale. Costco Wholesale Corp. highlighted member savings days, while Dick’s Sporting Goods noted three-day-only deals.

Macy's early access sale

Macy’s.com cited “early access” as part of its 2-day holiday promotional strategy on Oct. 11.

Gen Z apparel retailer PacSun took it one step further with a blazing banner displaying up to 40% off and popups of its PacFridayPreview noting two days left.


PacSun promoted its limited-time PacFridayPreview on its home page on Oct. 11.

Consumers are making careful purchases

The decline in retailers’ competing sales in October compared to July might have to do with the current economic environment, fraught with inflation and higher prices for necessities like gas and groceries, says Alexander Winston, consultant at Propeller, a business consulting agency. Today, inflation is reducing buying power. Winston cautions against retailers promoting too early and too often. As holiday selling seasons are landing earlier and earlier, there will be a limit to the “juice to be squeezed” from consumers, he says.


“Consumers are expected to spend an average of 6% more versus last year, with inflation climbing above 8%, indicating softer sales this year,” Winston says.

And because consumers will be more wary of spending this year, there is likely to be more demand around essential purchases than nice-to-haves, said Thomas Kasemir, chief product officer at Productsup, a product-to-consumer software vendor. 

“By running a sales event in October, businesses can get a better understanding of what the essential purchases are this year,” Kasemir said. “Brands can’t afford to lose out on sales this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So, an early sales event acts as a trial run to work out any kinks in their system.”

Target and Walmart mirror Prime Days and Early Access strategies

Once again, Amazon’s direct competitors held sales, albeit a different approach from Amazon. Target Corp. (No. 5) launched its own deal days to compete with Amazon. The three-day sale occurred before Amazon Prime Early Access, held from Oct. 6 through Oct. 8. Deals ranged to up to 50% off, similar to its July 3-day deals, which ranged from 5% to 60% off. On Oct. 11, Target launched Black Friday deals on its homepage.


Meanwhile, Walmart Inc. (No. 2) displayed a more muted homepage on Oct. 11, highlighting a “flash deal” item at the top. The retailer promoted some Halloween deals rather than Black Friday. It also included the usual promotion of its 30-day free trial for its membership program. 

Gift cards, Amazon photo projects among top sought items

By 9 a.m. ET, Oct. 12, Chicago-based market research firm Numerator captured 13,215 orders with an average order value of $45.50. That totals just over $606,000 in sales. Given that Digital Commerce 360 estimated that Amazon’s sales on the Prime Day event earlier this year exceeded $12 billion, it is important to note that Numerator is only capturing a small subset of Amazon orders.   

The top items include Amazon photo projects, Amazon gift cards and Amazon essentials women’s apparel. Most items (59%) have sold for under $20, while 4% sold for more than $100. According to Numerator, the top categories consumers say they’ve purchased are household essentials, health & beauty, and apparel and shoes. 14% of shoppers purchased expensive items they waited for a sale in order to buy. 

Discount types 

Fewer retailers, 71.3%, offered percent-off discounts as part of the October promotion, according to Digital Commerce 360’s site checks. That compares with 77.2% of retailers that offered the same discount type for Amazon Prime Days in July. Percentage discounts ranged from 5.0% to 80.0% off, with the median retailers’ maximum percentage off at 40% and median minimum at 10.0%.


In October, more retailers offered dollar-figure discounts (25.0%) and free shipping (28.8%) as promotions. Fewer offered gifts with purchase (6.3%), and fewer retailers offered multiple types of discounts during day one of Amazon Prime Early Access (36.6%). That compares with 40.5% in July.

Other types of discounts included Chewy.com Inc.’s promotion for a $30 e-gift card when spending $100. Overstock.com Inc. flashed a “free shipping on everything” promotion, and Lands’ End promoted its Warm Coat Drive in place through Nov. 20, where a customer receives 50% off a new Lands’ End coat in exchange for gently worn coats given in stores.

No-discount retailers

While the majority of retailers in the Digital Commerce 360 panel offered sales, 20.0% offered no discounts at all. This is similar to July, except the majority not offering deals was more evenly distributed among consumer brand manufacturers and retail chains.


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