Analysis: Retailers ‘Primed’ for Holiday Season Kickoff

Best Buy’s Prime Day counterpunch includes a wide selection of discounted TVs, laptops and video gaming gear.

By Alan Wolf, YSN

For the past five years, Amazon has sought to entice new members to its Amazon Prime loyalty program — and reward current ones — with an exclusive, Christmas-in-July promotion called Prime Day.

While Amazon would add a veneer of excitement to the event by proclaiming record volume for its Echoes, Dots and other proprietary tech, most of its “deals,” at least to this industry observer, were mid-year clearance sales designed to flush out languishing inventory and make way for fresh fourth-quarter merchandise.

Like everything else this year, the pandemic has changed the equation. Supply chain snafus and new distribution center protocols compelled Amazon to move its Christmas-in-July sale closer to the actual holidays, prompting a competitive response from the big-box chains.

This week, as Amazon holds its postponed Prime Day event (Oct. 13-14), Best Buy, Walmart, Target and Wayfair, among others, are conducting their own counterpoint promotions. In the process, they’ve elevated Prime Day to tent-pole status as the unofficial kickoff to the 2020 holiday selling season, and we all may be witnessing the start of a new Q4 tradition.

Related: Bye-Bye Black Friday?

As per its standard Prime Day approach, Amazon sprinkled in a few standout offers along with the flotsam, including a 65-inch Hisense 4K Roku TV for $549, reduced from $629. By way of comparison, here’s a quick look at some of the tech, home furnishings and appliance counterpunches thrown by Amazon’s leading competitors:

Best Buy: Not surprisingly, the largest remaining national CE specialty chain (GameStop’s the other) is holding a Black Friday kickoff event over the same two sales days as Amazon, and also promises to refund its loyalty club members the difference if its discounts deepen by Thanksgiving. Leading the promotional charge is Samsung’s 70-inch Class 6 Series 4K LED smart Tizen TV (Model UN70TU6980FXZA), whose retail price was slashed by $220, to $530 through Oct. 14.

On the appliance side, the deals are less bedazzling given the run on white-goods inventory. Many open-box and private-label Insignia models are sprinkled into the promotional mix, and more than a few “Getting more soon” stock-out tags appear in the online listings.

Walmart: The world’s largest brick-and-mortar discounter launched its “The Big Save” sale on the Friday before Prime Day and will keep it going a full day past Amazon’s cutoff. Belying its name, the promotion is limited to less than 2,000 items, and you won’t find any 70-inch Samsungs here. Instead, Walmart trimmed the vendor’s step-up 65-inch QLED 4K set (Model QN65Q60TBFXZA) by $100 to $898.

Target: Also running parallel to Prime Day is Target’s annual “Deal Days” event, which in contrast with Walmart is promising “hundreds of thousands of deep discounts” across multiple categories. In mattresses, online-only “doorbusters” include foam models from Casper, Molecule, OSO and Serta’s Tuft & Needle brand, while its top TV offer is TCL’s popular 65-inch 4K Roku set (Model 65S425) for $470, a savings of $130.

Wayfair: The online-only home goods discounter is holding a 13-day sales event through Oct. 21 that promises up to 60 percent off living room and outdoor furniture; up to 20 percent off laundry appliances; and up to 10-percent off full-sized refrigerators. There’s also a “48-Hour Clearout” sale that dovetails with Prime Day and features a hodgepodge of one-off kitchen and home comfort products ranging from a 7-cubic-foot GE chest freezer for $280 to a 48-inch stainless dual-fuel range by ZLINE that was reduced from $6,345 to $4,700.