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Amazon will kick off a pandemic-tinged holiday shopping season with October Prime Day

A UPS driver delivers an Amazon package outside a home.
Amazon has set Oct. 13 and 14 as Prime Day, kicking off a holiday shopping season like no other.
(Elise Amendola / Associated Press)

Amazon.com Inc. is aiming to kick-start the holiday shopping season even earlier this year.

The company is holding its annual Prime Day over two days in October this year, after the pandemic forced it to postpone the sales event from July. It’s the first time Prime Day is being held in the fall, and Amazon is positioning it as a way to get people to start their holiday shopping.

Even before Amazon’s announcement Monday, major retailers had said they plan to push shoppers to start their holiday shopping in October and offer deals earlier, hoping to avoid crowds in their stores in November and December.

Prime Day, which will run from Oct. 13 to Oct. 14 this year, is sure to put pressure on rivals to offer deals around the same time.

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In past years, Walmart, Best Buy and Target offered their own online discounts during Prime Day. Target announced Monday that it would also hold a two-day sale event Oct. 13 and 14.

Although Black Friday marks the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, merchants in recent years have offered discounts early to lure shoppers. That will be even more of a concern this year as retailers struggle to make up for lost sales this year and attempt to maintain safe shopping environments.

Requirements that customers wear masks in stores, restaurants and other establishments are often just requests. Workers must enforce compliance.

Amazon started the sales event in 2015 as its answer to Singles Day, a shopping holiday in China popularized by Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. Prime Day has become one of Amazon’s biggest shopping days because it offers some of its deepest discounts of the year.

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Amazon also sees it as a way to get more people to sign up for its Prime membership, given that only those paying $12.99 a month or $119 a year can access the deals.

Walmart last month announced the Sept. 15 launch of its own subscription program, called Walmart+, for $12.95 a month or $98 a year. The program, cheaper than Amazon Prime for an annual membership, features unlimited free delivery of groceries and other items from stores as well as gasoline discounts.


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