Black Friday, the annual pre-Christmas shopping extravaganza which brought in over $1.5 billion in online sales alone last November, has arguably turned out to be the single most important day for retailers in the US.
Now Amazon looks to unveil a Black Friday rival with its Prime Day.
The e-commerce giant announced that it would mark its 20th anniversary on 15 July with deals for subscribers of its Prime shopping programme across nine countries (the US, UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and Austria).
Vice president of Amazon Prime, Greg Greeley said, ''Prime Day is a one-day only event filled with more deals than Black Friday,'' but stopped short of spelling out whether it would offer more deals on 15 July than it did during Black Friday or, if the value of the deals was worth more, or if it hoped Prime Day would eventually trump Black Friday as each year's main celebration of consumerism.
The latter proposition was not as outlandish as it might seem due to Amazon's huge influence on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which had included cutting prices on about 80 million products during the event and extending sales into the week leading up to Thanksgiving, putting additional pressure on both online and brick-and-mortar competitors.
The summer sale would be held on Wednesday, 15 July, the day before Amazon.com was first launched two decades earlier with special deals being rolled out as often as every 10 minutes throughout the day.
The deals, however, would be only available for new and existing Prime members -- people who paid an annual fee for free two-day shipping, a streaming-video library and other benefits.
The deal was for those who live in the US, UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada and Austria.
In the run-up to the shopping event, Amazon was holding a #PrimeLiving Photo Contest, calling on customers to submit photos that showed off Prime's benefits. One winner from each Prime-eligible country would receive a $10,000 Amazon gift card.
According to commentators, Prime Day served as yet another example of the long term effort of Amazon to bring more customers to Prime, which was introduced in 2005 and now had an estimated 40 million US members.
A key reason for the strategy was that Prime members spent a lot more on Amazon -- about $1,500 yearly, as against $625 spent by non-members, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners said.
In addition to the 15 July event, Amazon has been expanding this year as a new rapid-delivery service that was also exclusive to its Prime members.