Study: Prime Day will draw back-to-school shoppers

June is typically a slow time for retail, but Prime Day 2021 is expected to jump-start back-to-school sales.

According to data from online discounts and deals platform RetailMeNot, 92% of U.S. consumers are likely to use Amazon Prime Day 2021 to shop for back-to-school items. Amazon has essentially confirmed Prime Day will be held in June, following its postponement to October in 2020 due to COVID-19. 

RetailMeNot expects the upcoming Prime Day event to serve as a “very early” kickoff for consumers to tackle their back-to-school shopping. A recent RetailMeNot survey revealed that 66% of retailers admitted their Prime Day counter-promotional shift in 2020 affected their back-to-school performance. 

However, RetailMeNot analysis also indicates retailers are “optimistic” around Prime Day this year, and are driving increased investment to overcome last year's challenges. Many retailers expect Prime Day sales to rise from 2020, whenever the holiday is held. The average U.S. consumer plans to spend $594 on Prime Day 2021, and 79% of consumers have shopped Amazon Prime Day in previous years.

RetailMeNot also identified other popular product categories consumers expect to purchase during Prime Day 2021:

•    Clothing, shoes and apparel 44%;
•    Kitchen appliances 32%;
•    Home décor 30%;
•    Smart home products 30%;
•    Cleaning supplies 29%;
•    At-home fitness equipment 26%; and,
•    Video games / consoles 22%

RetailMeNot finds certain categories consistently have big discounts during Prime Day, including smart home devices, TV’s and laptops, fashion, beauty, pet products, and tools and toys. The company expects Amazon-owned items like the Kindle, Echo, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and newer devices like the Amazon Halo fitness tracker to especially see deep discounts. RetailMeNot predicts overall savings to be very similar year-over-year, with possibly more features and limited-time offers. 

In 2020, RetailMeNot observed over 350 retailers promoting alongside Prime Day, which was over 17% more retailers than participated on Prime Day 2019. Among these retailers, over half mimicked Amazon's "Lightning Deals" theme and offered short-duration flash sales, and about 30% used Prime messaging in their offers or codes. RetailMeNot says shoppers can expect other retailers to jump on board and offer discounts to rival and match Prime Day deals, with maybe even more breadth in categories to comparable prior year sales. 

RetailMeNot also found that the pandemic in 2020 caused many retailers to experience heavy online traffic and sales, creating supply and demand issues due to the increased amount of shoppers. Retailers are advised to be adaptable to changing consumer expectations and industry standards, and not to make assumptions about the timing of future Prime Day sales promotions from Amazon.

“This Prime Day, we can safely assume that the best deals are really going to be on some of those Amazon-branded products,” said Sara Skirboll, shopping & trends expert at RetailMeNot. “Think Amazon basics – Alexa, Echo, anything that the brand manufactures and produces itself.”

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