Amazon Prime Day: Black Friday in July?

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While the run-up to Amazon.com Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) Prime Day isn’t the month-long marketing marathon that Black Friday has become, the company began pushing the promotion in late June. Other retailers began pushing back at about the same time.

No online retailer can afford to let Amazon have Prime Day all to itself. Many began running promotions of their own over the July 4th holiday weekend, offering steep discounts of up to 50% on clothing, accessories and footwear.

More retailers are competing with Amazon now, with offers from department stores like J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP), Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) and Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) extending big discounts on both their websites and in their brick-and-mortar stores. Macy’s, for example, is touting a 60% price reduction on every item it sells online.

Big-box retailers Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD), Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) and Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) all have 40% discount offers on appliances until Wednesday. Computer maker Dell is even calling its discount on hardware “Black Friday in July” as it offers “doorbuster” deals on desktops, laptops and other products.

One of Amazon’s direct competitors for smart assistant products — Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google — is selling its Google Home speaker and a Chromecast streaming device for $99.99 through eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY). That’s a combined saving of $64.

Loup Ventures Managing Director Gene Munster told NBC News:

In terms of Prime Day 2017, [Amazon will] crush the number of items they sold on Prime Day last year. We expect Amazon will sell 30 to 40 percent more items on Prime Day 2017 vs. Prime Day 2016. While this is a jump up in sales, it will be lower growth than last year.

Amazon this year expanded the number of countries where Prime Day offers are available to include China and India, and if adding sales from the world’s two most populous countries doesn’t drive up the number of items sold, then nothing will.

But Amazon’s goal for Prime Day is to add subscribers to its Prime service. The $99 membership fee translates into nearly double the annual spending at the Amazon website compared with spending by non-Prime consumers. Retail is becoming Amazon’s world, and everyone else is learning how to live in it.