U.S. mass merchants based in brick and mortar stores, especially Walmart, are coming hard after Amazon as online sales boom, scheduling competing events directly against Amazon’s rescheduled Prime Day.
Amazon postponed Prime Day, its mid-July sales event, in June due to COVID, and has now rescheduled for October 13-14. Not to be outdone, Walmart is planning its own "Big Save" promotion for October 11-15, starting before Amazon’s event and lasting longer, according to Chain Store Age
. And Target is planning Target Deal Days on October 13-14, with some price cuts beginning as early as October 5. This sets up a battle royale between three of the top 10 retailers in the U.S., including the top two. For reference, Walmart is #1 with sales over double Amazon’s, the second largest U.S. retailer, and nearly seven times Target's, #8.
The competing sales are only one aspect of the mass merchants’ growing competitiveness in the online space, seeking to stem Amazon’s gains as sales migrate online at large scale in the COVID era.
Walmart has also launched Walmart Plus, a membership program offering year-long benefits to online shoppers that competes with Amazon Prime, in September. Memberships cost $98 per year and offer free delivery and other benefits, including fuel discounts. Research firm Piplsay ran an online survey of over 20,000 people two weeks after launch, and 11% of respondents said they had already subscribed, with 27% saying they may subscribe soon. The service is cheaper than Amazon Prime, and while it does not include video or music content to compete with Amazon Prime, the delivery options are competitive and will make Walmart a more attractive alternative vs. Amazon.
All of these changes reflect the speed with which brick-and-mortar retailers are adapting to the COVID era, with customers wanting to do less in-store shopping and more contactless options, such as delivery or curbside pick-up. Independent retailers are part of that picture, with many enhancing their online offerings to remain competitive. The holiday season appears to be starting earlier, basically with these mid-October promotions, with online sales and promotions likely continuing to the end of the year. Not only are brick and mortar retailers seeking to compete with Amazon, they’re also trying to take pressure off in-store shopping, which in many locations cannot accommodate as many simultaneous shoppers on Black Friday and other big shopping days as in the pre-COVID era.