Amazon asks, why wait for Black Friday when you can get Christmas deals today?

Discussion
Source: Amazon
Oct 04, 2021

Why wait? Amazon.com announced today that “Black Friday-worthy deals” are available right now on its site. The retailing and tech giant is looking to get ahead of its rivals, decrease fulfillment stress over the course of the holiday season and respond directly to consumers who, no doubt, have also seen countless stories about limited supplies of popular gifts in the lead-up to Christmas.

The seasonal promotion launch is the earliest yet for Amazon, which moved its promotions up last year in response to conditions in the marketplace created by the pandemic. The company, which dwarfs its rivals for online sales (direct and third-party sales via its platform), has grabbed a larger share of overall retail sales during past holiday seasons.

Amazon said that it is offering discounts and other deals across virtually every product category. The company has also released its biggest-ever selection of gift guides in categories such as beauty, electronics, fashion, home and toys. It has also produced lists of favorite stocking stuffer gifts and those items that are most loved by its millions of customers.

Customers looking for special deals can go to amazon.com/epicdeals on the site, check them out on Amazon’s mobile app or by asking “Alexa, what are my deals?” Gift guides and holiday prep shops can be accessed via the amazon.com/gifts and amazon.com/holidayprep urls respectively.

“We’re excited to help customers get great holiday deals even earlier this year, including thousands of small business products,” said Dave Clark, CEO of worldwide consumer at Amazon. “Customers can confidently shop early knowing they are receiving incredible deals starting today, letting them get a head start on their holiday to-do lists so they can truly enjoy the holiday season.”

Amazon is expected once again to grab the biggest share of online sales during the holiday season, but the company’s year-over-year growth during Christmastime has slowed in recent  years compared to accelerating rivals including Target and Walmart. Target’s digital sales were up 102 percent in the last two months of 2020 and Walmart posted a 69 percent gain for the holiday quarter.

Target said last week that it would kick off its Deal Days holiday promotion on October 10. The promotion, which will run for three days, marks the first time that Target has made all its deals available on all sales touchpoints to its customers.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How do you expect the dueling sales promotions to play out between Amazon and the largest retail chains this holiday season? What will retailers competing with Amazon, Target and Walmart need to do to stand out during the Christmas season this year?

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Braintrust
"With little guarantee of a solid inventory position going into the traditional Black Friday sales period, retailers are wise to start promotions early. "

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25 Comments on "Amazon asks, why wait for Black Friday when you can get Christmas deals today?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

I’m not surprised Amazon made the first move, and the other majors are responding in kind. But this isn’t just about getting bargains now, it’s also a hedge against the significant inventory and supply chain issues. Securing orders now buys these retailers more time to fulfill. But buying online now, induced by great pricing, doesn’t guarantee that you’ll actually get your item before the holidays – things are that bad. My store visits over this last weekend were a stark reminder of how challenging the supply issues are. Word of advice for shoppers: buy what you can find now, and don’t assume that ordering really early on Amazon (or any other retailer) will guarantee you will get your item in time.

Rick Watson
BrainTrust

This is going to be one of the strangest holiday seasons in some time. I predict stores could get a bump this year because consumers will become concerned about inventory.

Bethany Allee
Guest

I’m with, Rick – it’s going to be an interesting holiday season and going to a store to select from items physically available for immediate purchase will be a stronger pull this year.

Many consumers are concerned about supply chain issues, and savvy consumers have already finished their holiday shopping. I don’t love the holiday time warp, but holiday promotions should be in full swing if a retailer wants to be successful this season.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

First of all, kudos to Amazon for hiring the copywriter who came up with that sneaky phrase: “Black Friday-worthy deals.” Fooled me. Retailers are more motivated than ever to offer tempting deals earlier than ever, partly because they can no longer rely on their just-in-time supply chain. I’m actually surprised that retailers aren’t getting some sort of subtle messaging out there that shoppers might not find the same items available in December.

To stay out in front this holiday season, you must tame the supply chain beast. Shop early and often as product supplies are at a premium. Retailers need to insure their inventory is accurate and as real-time as is possible. You don’t want to be the retailer with the empty bag this holiday season.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

The first movers in the 2021 holiday season will be the winners – both retailers and consumers. With the current supply chain issues and the potential delays in product deliveries, consumers are more interested in shopping early this year than ever before. Retailers will also be ramping up promotions earlier than ever. According to Deloitte, 2021 holiday sales are expected to be up 7 percent to 9 percent. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Sure, some consumers will go for the “Why wait for Black Friday?” deals, but others will wait for the big day itself. Or shop both.

As hard as we all try to downplay Black Friday as being passé we cannot continue to overlook the fact that consumers still love it. It is a much anticipated, discussed, and planned for American shopping tradition. Seriously, it would be a lot more productive if we all just embraced it as consumers have. If you think that there will not be big Black Friday sales and events at every major and independent retailer on the day after Thanksgiving you are living under a rock.

Liz Adamson
BrainTrust

Supply chain issues are at the forefront of everyone’s mind this year. With little guarantee of a solid inventory position going into the traditional Black Friday sales period, retailers are wise to start promotions early. The retailer with the most seamless experience, including a wide selection of products, will likely win this year. And these are both things Amazon is well known for.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Amazon’s October deals pull holiday shopping forward, easing supply chain strain and forcing rivals to run concurrent sales to stay competitive. Amazon’s focus on beauty, electronics and toys could push rivals to offer deeper discounts in these key categories to win with holiday shoppers.

To stand out from the giants, retailers can offer a unique, in-demand assortment including private labels, plus remarkable customer service and evocative content. Most importantly in 2021, retailers need in-stock merchandise.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

This may be one of the least surprising announcements of the season. Alibaba has a firm hold on 11/11 and Target scooped up 10/10. And now Amazon swoops in with its early October Christmas launch. Black Friday hasn’t quite evaporated as a shopping event, but is now more broadly an umbrella term for “great deal.” I expect promotions to now say, “We actually have this in stock!” versus “Lowest price ever!” At some point all the news about late deliveries to retailers could encourage customers to wait for what could be insane clearance prices come late December and January. This holiday season will be one for the books.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

Consumers will certainly benefit this holiday as competition for wallet share heats up. I am curious to see what happens around Black Friday and into December after all the BUY EARLY sales are done. Retailers have a notoriously short memories. What’s going to drive traffic later in the season when they’re up against LY? What panic pricing will we see late in the season?

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Amazon is using the “Black Friday” title simply to attract those looking for great deals. The consumer is trained. Don’t we see a “Black Friday in July”? As many wrote last year, Black Friday isn’t that Black Friday anymore.

This strategy is simply “pantry loading.” It is giving the consumer the opportunity and reason to buy what they wanted. Now. $1,000 off that new TV that I was planning to buy myself for Christmas. Of course, if I went to Walmart, I could buy the very same TV, right now, for only $100 more than the Amazon Epic deal, with no Black Friday fanfare. But gee, $1,000 off — how can I miss this opportunity?

Let’s see how Target and Walmart react in the next few weeks.

By the way, this is part of the Amazon playbook. Supply chain difficulties or not, they would execute the same. To their benefit, the media is hyping the supply chain issues which will encourage the consumer to react.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Back in the 1980s I sent a marketing piece to my clients. It was August and the headline was: If Department Stores Can Do It, So Can I. It was a holiday promotion. The stores – at least in St. Louis, MO – were promoting a Christmas deal in September! So by those standards, Amazon and others are starting late. Seriously though, there is some public concern, thanks to the news, that if you don’t plan ahead you may not get what you want for the holidays. So a promotion mixed with a little public concern is a perfect formula for an early retail holiday sale.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

Actually that other left out retailer, QVC, started Black Friday deals last Friday at midnight. They mention every other sentence that inventory is going to be tight at all retailers so customers better buy up now. Normally QVC is great at rotating products where you wouldn’t see product for six months, but you are seeing the same product multiple times a month. I walked a few Walmart stores this past weekend – 100 percent of deco is out, so I am guessing that they may not have enough to carry them through the entire season.

This will be an interesting year to see what will happen but I think the push to buy early will be amplified at most if not all retailers as the weeks go by.

Oliver Guy
BrainTrust

This is an interesting one – certainly from this side of the pond. Black Friday has established itself over the past few years in the UK and Europe after having been pretty much unheard of 10 years ago. Every year, retailers struggled to cope – with website demand, in-store demand or fulfilling what was needed.

The opportunity to “spread the demand” was taken and it became Black Friday weekend and Black Friday week in some quarters – but what Amazon are proposing spreads the load out even further. Given the global supply chain challenges this may well be a tactic to help Amazon cope – others may well follow.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

It’s smart to jump the gun, especially since the widespread news of logistics issues could be worrisome for consumers — why wait? The response from the retail world who ARE waiting will be interesting. It will be a test to see how much Amazon affects mass retail strategies, as they did with Prime Day. I would suspect a lot — so expect the copycats to roll right in behind this announcement.

Jennifer Bartashus
BrainTrust

Let’s not forget: Amazon had its Prime Day in October last year, so from a revenue and earnings perspective the company had to do something to help offset difficult sales comparisons, so these “deals” are not that surprising. That said, supply chain concerns are the potential Scrooge of the holiday season this year, and consumers may be more likely to spend earlier rather than later for key gifts, especially because concerns about shortages are in the news.

KatieThomasKCI
Guest

Earlier deals may be best for the retailer, but many consumers are simply not ready to be shopping for the holidays yet. Excluding this year’s supply chain issues, not sure consumers should be punished by not being ready to buy holiday gifts in October.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

If overall supply is down, and demand is at least stable, particularly for the growth oriented online purchasing segment … why reduce pricing so soon and probably be out of stock in December? I think Amazon is trying to take market share, and potentially be in a position to reorder what can be made available for sale in December, based on ramping sales now, and then refilling quickly at the expense of other retailers.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

As usual, Amazon’s PR machine is front-and-center, creating “news.” Black Friday is no longer a day, it’s a season, and Target started the race last week. I expect many consumers to shop early and often, and retailers that can offer the in-demand items conveniently will be the winners.

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust
The Amazon move is new, but in line with moving the buying cycle earlier. There is an anticipation and expectation to shop in stores and as the season unfolds, I would expect more and more customers buying in the store. The challenge for Amazon is twofold: 1) in the US, the Halloween sales cycle is still running, and customers won’t be thinking about Xmas gifts just yet. 2) Supply chain issues are unpredictable and most of the public doesn’t think like the BrainTrust with buying ahead of the Xmas cycle. Sure there will be some who try to shoot for the Prime day options and the Xmas in [fill in your month] deals, but these won’t be Xmas gifts. They’ll be opportunistic purchases and impulse buys. I am expecting this to be a challenging year for Amazon during the November-December timeframe, especially with supply chain and transport issues causing unavailability of products that can ship in time driving customers to the store. But Amazon will still be able to claim success as their season effectively… Read more »
Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

Terrific pre-emptive move by Amazon. This move addresses the multitude of issues already noted, such as consumer concerns, product availability, supply chain issues, etc. The move by Amazon will resonate strongly with consumers and the heartburn experienced by the Amazon logistics team.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

Amazon helped kickstart the holiday shopping season early in 2020 with Prime Day, so it’s no surprise they are doing the same in 2021. I see this more as a hedge against supply chain issues down the line. Amazon, as all retailers are, is looking for reasons to drive purchases early in the season while they still have inventory. The later it gets in the season, the harder it may be for them to source products. Then there is the potential for shipping issues. Although Amazon has an advantage over other 3rd party last-mile shippers, it’s very likely we will see a repeat of last year’s “shipageddon” but worse this year!

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

Given the projected supply chain issues and shipping companies raising rates before the holidays, it makes sense for Amazon to signal that one should shop early for the holiday season, and waiting for bargains may mean post-Xmas deliveries.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Amazon is very smart at coming out early to start offering discounts to their customers. This way they are buying first, from Amazon, and using their budgetary monies online. Amazon can also entice customers with new items, and not yet available products by introducing these to their customers while they are “browsing” online.

John Hennessy
BrainTrust

With competitors gaining during the traditional holiday selling season, a great response is to change the rule of the game by expanding the season. As mentioned elsewhere, pantry load to take back share and play up the scarcity inevitable due to supply chain issues to create shopper urgency.
Smart move.

This earlier buying season may also generate incremental sales. A few shoppers on the fence for this and that may buy now then buy self gifts again later when the holidays approach and the novelty has worn off from their October “holiday” purchases.

Operationally, this could smooth out demand and improve shopper perception of Amazon service levels.

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Braintrust
"With little guarantee of a solid inventory position going into the traditional Black Friday sales period, retailers are wise to start promotions early. "

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