Amazon turns in record Prime Day, despite lower growth

Prime Day 2021 generated solid sales growth for Amazon but had less of an impact than the 2020 event, industry observers say.

Amazon’s gross merchandise sales on Prime Day, held June 21 to 22 this year, totaled $11.19 billion worldwide, up 7.6% from $10.39 billion on Oct. 13 and 14, 2020, according to estimates from Digital Commerce 360. The e-commerce research and media firm said Prime Day 2020, which Amazon said it pushed back due to COVID-19, saw a more than 45% sales gain from $7.16 billion in 2019, when the annual sales event was held July 15 to 16.

BofA Global Research estimated that Amazon tallied $9.55 billion in total Prime Day gross merchandise value (GMV), up 7% from $8.95 billion in 2020, which represented a 54% increase from $5.8 billion in 2019. BofA broke down its Prime Day 2021 GMV estimate into $5.6 billion in first-party sales (direct from Amazon), up 5.5%, versus $3.95 billion from third-party sellers (via Amazon’s marketplace), up 10% year over year.

“We currently estimate 28.6% year-over-year GMV growth for Amazon in 2Q 2021, which would be 24.2% without Prime Day,” BofA Global Research analysts Justin Post and Michael McGovern wrote in a June 23 research note. “Overall, Prime Day results seem to point to relatively lower growth than usual, but still good enough to support solid 2Q GMV growth on a tough 2Q comp. We see potential for Amazon to gain market share in e-commerce in a post-pandemic recovery.”

Amazon

Amazon said Prime Day 2021 marked record volume for the annual even, with more than 250 million items sold globally.

Digital market researcher eMarketer had forecast Amazon’s Prime Day 2021 GMV sales to reach $11.79 billion globally, marking 19% growth from $9.91 billion in 2020, which represented a 43% gain from $6.93 billion in 2019.

Seattle-based Amazon hasn’t reported Prime Day 2021 dollar sales figures. However, the e-tail giant noted that it achieved record volume for this year’s event, with its third-party (3P) sellers outpacing its first-party (1P) growth, in part lifted by the Amazon-funded “Spend $10, Get $10” promotion for marketplace purchases. Published reports peg the base of Prime members at roughly 200 million worldwide and 150 million in the United States.

“Members shopped and saved more this year than any other Prime Day, including in best-selling categories around the world like electronics and Amazon devices,” Amazon said in a blog post on Wednesday. “Prime Day 2021 was the biggest two-day period ever for Amazon’s third-party sellers, nearly all of which are small and medium-sized businesses, growing even more than Amazon’s retail business. Prime members in 20 countries shopped more this Prime Day than any previous Prime Day and scored deep discounts across home, fashion, beauty, and electronics. Prime members purchased more than 250 million items worldwide and saved more than any Prime Day before.”

BofA estimated that Amazon sold 255 million items during Prime Day 2021, up from 240 million in 2020 and 175 million in 2019. Amazon said its top-selling categories worldwide for Prime Day this year were tools, beauty, nutrition, baby care, electronics (including Amazon devices), apparel and household products. The best-selling products in the U.S., Amazon reported, were the Waterpik Electric Water Flosser, Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder, 23andMe Health DNA Test, iRobot Roomba 692 Robot Vacuum and Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 Quart 9-in-1 Pressure Cooker.

“This year’s Prime Day came only eight months after last year’s Prime Day, a much shorter time period than the 15 months between Prime Day 2019 and 2020. Amazon also did not add any new countries to Prime Day this year, after adding two last year and four in 2019,” BofA’s Post and McGovern noted. “Amazon did disclose that 250 million items were sold, which represents a 20% two-year CAGR from 175 million items sold in Prime Day 2019, but likely limited growth versus 2020. Given the shorter period of time since the last Prime Day, the lack of new countries added, and the lack of new disclosures, we believe this was a relatively lower growth Prime Day versus prior years.”

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The average Prime Day order this year was $44.75, down from $54.64 on Prime Day 2020 and $58.91 on Prime Day 2019, reported Numerator. The consumer data specialist’s Prime Day Tracker, in tallying final results for the Amazon event, found that 11% of households who shopped Prime Day placed five or more orders and 55% made two or more orders. On the dollars side, 52% of Prime Day shoppers spent more than $100, for an average household spend of $106.41. Sixty percent of Prime Day orders were for $30 or less, while 10% exceeded $200.

Numerator’s analysis is based on 30,806 Prime Day orders from 12,956 unique households and 3,132 verified Prime Day buyer surveys. Of Prime Day shoppers polled, the top categories cited for purchases were health and beauty (28%), consumer electronics (28%), household essentials (27%), apparel and shoes (27%), home and garden (26%) and smart home devices (17%). Almost one in five (16%) of Prime Day shoppers said they purchased groceries from Amazon.

More than half (53%) of Prime Day buyers only considered Amazon for their purchase, Numerator said. In comparison, 26% considered Walmart/Walmart.com, 21% Target/Target.com, 10% warehouse clubs, 9% department stores, 8% Best Buy/BestBuy.com and 7% grocery stores.

According to Digital Commerce 360’s analysis, nearly 51% of the top 250 North American retailers a “widespread” sales event on their e-commerce sites during Prime Day 2021. Among the top 100, including Walmart and Target, 57% offered a wide-ranging sale and 35.7% held a competing Prime Day sale, including similar language such as “Prime,” “two-day sale” or “no membership required,” with the latter targeting the requirement of Prime membership to access Prime Day deals, Digital Commerce 360 said.

Citing data from Adobe Analytics, BofA Global Research said U.S. e-commerce sales during this year’s 48-hour Prime Day event climbed to $11 billion ($5.6 billion on day one and and $5.4 billion on day two), up 6% from $10.4 billion in Prime Day 2020. That would signal a key achievment for Prime Day, as it would exceed the total for Cyber Monday 2020.

“If recent trends are any sign of what’s ahead, total U.S. online spend for Prime Day promises to surpass last year’s Cyber Monday, when U.S. e-commerce hit $10.9 billion to become the biggest shopping day of 2020, according to the latest Adobe Digital Economy Index,” Taylor Schreiner, director at Adobe Digital Insights, said last week in a blog post on Prime Day predictions. “Overtaking Cyber Monday will be a major milestone after last year’s Prime Day spending of $10.4 billion (total for both days) exceeded the $9 billion for Black Friday and the $5.1 billion for Thanksgiving Day.”

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