Amazon Prime Day kicks off holiday shopping, with Target and others offering deals

Amazon created Prime Day five years ago to stir up sales in July and convince shoppers to sign up for its Prime membership. With the coronavirus pandemic delaying the two-day event until October 13-14, Amazon Prime Day is morphing into something new: The unofficial start of the 2020 holiday shopping season.

Typically, the holiday shopping season begins on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. But the confluence of the pandemic with Amazon’s delayed Prime Day is prompting rival retailers such as Target and Best Buy to roll out holiday deals in October, a full month earlier than is typical. 

Retailers had already signaled their plans for a new approach to Black Friday, citing safety and health precautions during the coronavirus pandemic. Typically, Black Friday appeals to bargain-hunters who rush inside stores to snap up bargains as soon as the retailer opens its doors. But this year stores are eager to avoid indoor crowds, as the pandemic continues to flare up in many regions, and instead are turning to October to kick off their holiday sales online — and potentially steal some of Amazon’s Prime Day business. 

“Prime Day has already compelled other retailers to throw counter-sales during the same timeframe,” said Matt Wehner, shopping expert at BestBlackFriday.com. “These sales are being promoted as kickoffs to these other retailers’ holiday shopping seasons. 

He added, “Amazon Prime Day is really setting the pace this year.”

Prime Day sales at Amazon could reach almost $10 billion this year, representing a 43% jump from a year earlier, according to eMarketer. It’s also a far cry from the inaugural Prime Day event in 2015, when Amazon booked $1.5 billion in sales. 

Still, it’s unclear whether the rest of the retail industry will reap the same benefits. Millions of consumers remain strapped due to the coronavirus recession, with almost 60 million adults expecting to lose income in the next four weeks, according to recent Census data. About 7 in 10 consumers told the National Retail Federation they aren’t likely to shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. 

Here are the sales and offers from top retailers this week. 

Amazon Prime Day

Many shoppers will be focused on Amazon Prime Day, seeking out deals among its millions of products. 

Often, the best deals to be found on Amazon Prime Day are for Amazon’s own products, said Kristin Cook, managing editor of Ben’s Bargains, a site that tracks retail sales. For instance, Amazon will offer 60% off its Echo Dot (3rd Gen), which will retail for $18.90. 

Other Amazon devices that will be on sale include Fire tablets, which will be up to 45% off, and $50 off the Kindle Paperwhite, which will cost $79.99. Amazon has previewed of some of its Prime Day sales here.

Other items that will be on sale include: 

  • Electronics, such as Garmin GPS devices.
  • Household items such as Instapots, which Amazon says will be up to 50% off.
  • Smart home devices like Roombas, which will be up to 33% off.
  • Toys, with Amazon saying that Barbie and Hot Wheels toys will be up to 30% off.
  • Fashion, with Levis up to 40% off.
  • Beauty supplies from manufacturers such as Braun (up to 50%) and skincare companies such as Mario Badescu (up to 30% off).
  • Home improvement tools, with Craftsman tools up to 40% off.

Target Deal Days

Target is planning its “Deal Days” on October 13 and 14, no doubt to catch the eye of bargain hunters who might want to look beyond Amazon’s offers. 

Target says its Deal Days will offer discounts on “hundreds of thousands” of products through its website. It says that consumers who sign up for its free loyalty program, called Target Circle, will “access all the best deals.” 

Target says it will be offering discounts in many departments, including electronics, home, toys and beauty. 

Best Buy: Early Black Friday sales

Best Buy says it’s releasing early Black Friday sales on October 13 and 14. 

These are deals that will be part of the retailer’s early Black Friday ad, which hasn’t been released yet. 

The three discounts that it’s dangling ahead of the event are:

  • A 70-inch Samsung 4K Smart TV for $529.99, or a discount of $220.
  • Laptops starting at $119.99.
  • JBL Free True Wireless headphones $69.99, or a discount of $80.

Walmart’s Big Save event

Walmart kicked off its Big Save event on October 11 and will offer deals through October 15, aiming to catch Amazon shoppers before and after its Prime Day event. 

The retailing giant is offering discounts on many products across multiple categories, including: