For years, Amazon Prime Day’s nickname was “Black Friday in July.”
Now, Amazon is helping to kick off the holiday shopping season in earnest after delaying its annual sale from July until October amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As they do when Prime Day is held in July, other retailers including Target, Walmart and Best Buy are holding big sales of their own to compete with Amazon’s members-only shopping event.
But after Prime Day and the competing sales end, be prepared for round after round of early sales through Thanksgiving and beyond.
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With consumers encountering a very different experience during the coming holiday shopping season with restrictions on how many can be in a store at a time and concerns about online orders not arriving on time, experts say it’s critical for retailers to start the season early.
Plus, federal health officials also advise shoppers not wait until Black Friday to start shopping.
The National Retail Federation’s new consumer education campaign, “New Holiday Traditions,” encourages consumers to start shopping early and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classified “shopping at crowded stores just before, on or after Thanksgiving” on a list of higher-risk activities to avoid to help prevent the spread of the virus.
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This year amid the pandemic, shoppers will get a collective nudge from retailers to stay home this Thanksgiving as more stores remain closed on the holiday and push more sales online.
According to a holiday survey from Affirm taken by 2,000 Americans, 7 in 10 respondents said they’re more likely to buy something on sale now, rather than waiting for the traditional Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales.
Competing Prime Day sales
Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, Sam’s Club and Bed Bath & Beyond have announced they would start offering deals for the holiday season earlier than in past years to reduce crowds and to spread out demand amid COVID-19.
Walmart started its “Big Save” sale Sunday, which continues through Thursday, and has promised an “all-new Black Friday experience” is coming. The retail giant said it will spread traditional Black Friday savings throughout the season with more deals available online.
For Best Buy’s two-day sale, Tuesday and Wednesday, it is offering a “Black Friday guarantee” on select, qualifying items purchased. “Because it’s 2020 and life is unpredictable, if the price on one of these deals goes lower before Black Friday, My Best Buy customers will be automatically reimbursed the difference,” the company said.
Target’s Deal Days sale also will be held Tuesday and Wednesday.
Andy Mantis, head of data insights for 1010data, said with the potential for less discretionary spending this year, not getting “an early enough start could have an impact on how successful their holiday season will be.”
Early Black Friday?
Buyer, be aware: Retailers are more likely to say they will offer their deepest discounts during Prime Day than Black Friday and Cyber Monday, says Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot.
“As a result of fulfillment and shipping related issues many consumers experienced during the pandemic, they’re planning to start their holiday shopping earlier this year,” Skirboll said. “Prime Day, Cash Back Day and other early holiday sales give shoppers a great opportunity to find deals on the items they want without having to worry about whether it will arrive on time or sell out.”
RetailMeNot has announced its annual Cash Back Day will be two days of cash-back offers this year on Nov. 5-6.
Target announced in July that it would start rolling out deals in October. Home Depot also unveiled that its Black Friday sale will stretch nearly two months instead of a single day with deals available in stores and online.
Last week, Sam’s Club outlined its big sales and how it has expanded them to give shoppers more time to shop. Instead of a four-day Black Friday sale, this year it’ll last 10 days.
Kohl’s announced Monday that it would have a new “Black Friday Week” this year but hasn’t revealed what the sale will look like yet.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko