Walmart Responds to Amazon's 'Prime Day' With Sales Event, Pointed Barb

Retail Giant Criticizes Prime Service's Fee

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Walmart is responding to rival online retail giant Amazon's "Prime Day" on Wednesday with discounts on more than 2,000 online goods.

The move capitalizes on the surge of online shoppers expected this week as Amazon touts "Prime Day," which is only available to members who pay $99 annually. Walmart seized on that fee in announcing its own sale.

Walmart's President and CEO Fernando Madeira wrote in a blog post Monday morning, "We're standing up for our customers and everyone else who sees no rhyme or reason for paying a premium to save."

"Prime Day" was announced in the beginning of July and promotes the 10-year-old subscription service, which gives members access to deals, streaming services and free delivery. Amazon said the number of sales will outnumber Black Friday deals. The event also comes on the eve of the tech company's 20th birthday.

Walmart, which saw online sales increase 17% in the first quarter, is highlighting its event by cutting the minimum order for free shipping from $50 to $35 until further notice, according to Molly Blakeman, a Walmart representative.

Both Walmart and Amazon have battled over the online retail space in recent years with deals typically coming in the holiday season on Cyber Monday and Black Friday.

While Walmart and Amazon are both bringing attention to online shopping this week, "Christmas in July" promotions are not unusual. Retailers like Best Buy and Target have embraced summer deals for several years now. Target is continuing its six-year-old "Black Friday in July" event this week, while Best Buy is plannig a Black Friday-style event on July 24 and 25.

Sucharita Mulpuru, a research analyst at Forrester Research, said she believes the sales events "will absolutely drive sales that wouldn't happen otherwise." While none of the summer sales events are likely to transform a business, she believes that many more companies will follow Walmart's lead and offer sales on Wednesday when consumers are likely to be shopping in droves.

--With contributions from Bloomberg--

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