Prime Day Eclipses Black Friday As Traditional Retail Continues To Tumble
Amazon Prime Day Sales jump 60 percent year-over-year, exceeding those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
For Amazon, Prime Day was like Christmas in July as the event shattered sales records from the previous year and led to the single biggest day for Prime signups in company history.
Per USA Today, more than 100,000 items were marked down during this year’s event with the Echo Dot speaker emerging as the top seller overall, a noteworthy win for Amazon as the company continues to make strides as a leader in voice services.
While Amazon was tight-lipped on specific revenue figures, they did reveal that “tens of millions” of Prime members made purchases during the 30-hour sale, representing a sales increase of 60 percent compared to the 2016 event. Not surprisingly, Amazon also boasted more new member sign ups on this year’s Prime Day than any other day in Amazon history. As of June, Amazon had amassed approximately 85 million Prime members, according to estimates from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.
Put in the context of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Amazon outperformed both shopping holidays combined—which is remarkable considering online sales alone for Black Friday last year totaled $3.34 billion. Unbeatable prices appeared to be the key ingredient to Amazon’s success: per one report, 77 percent of Prime Day prices were better than those offered on Black Friday.
While Amazon certainly has a lot to celebrate following Prime Day, the same cannot be said for major retailers who continue to face declining revenues. The loss of retail jobs—though at times overshadowed by discourse around the manufacturing sector—has been significant and Amazon is clearly a factor. Macy’s and Sears alone have bled roughly 90,000 jobs since October. Additionally, between 2001 and 2016, jobs at traditional department stores fell by 46 percent, according to Labor Department data.
Currently, Amazon employs more than 340,000 people, and the company has created more than 100,000 jobs so far this year. For many local economies, the challenge remains that despite jobs being added by Amazon, the new jobs are being replaced in different markets. A recent Guardian article explored the deep economic impact of a local Walmart shutting down in rural West Virginia.
“There has been a wave of closings across the U.S., most acutely in small towns and rural communities that have had heavy population loss,” Michael Hicks, an economics professor at Ball State University, shared in the article.
Critics of Prime Day say that Amazon’s market power allows the company to “bully counterparts.” In the book “Move Fast and Break Things” (ironically sold on Amazon) Social Media Week LA speaker Jonathan Taplin warns that Amazon has become a “monopsony,” that is, the single dominant buyer in the market. He argues that this enables Amazon to drive its prices down, which is a benefit to consumers, but a detriment to other business vying to stay competitive.
Finally, while Prime Day was a massive success for Amazon and e-commerce overall, the event pales in comparison to Alibaba’s Singles Day. Last year, the Chinese retail giant racked up $18 billion in sales in just 24 hours.
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