Prime Day Gives Retail a Boost

Amazon's Day of Deals Helped Raise Traffic at Sites Including Macy's, Walmart

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Amazon: Amazon Prime Day - High Low 16
Amazon: Amazon Prime Day - High Low 16 Credit: Amazon

It wasn't quite Black Friday in July, but Amazon's Prime Day did provide a boost to other retailers. Like a late-afternoon caffeine injection, the much-hyped day got consumers excited enough about shopping to increase traffic at most other retail sites.

By early afternoon on Prime Day, also known as Tuesday, July 12, a selection of retail sites including Target, Best Buy, Macy's and Walmart saw up to three times more traffic than a typical Tuesday, according to tracking company HookLogic, though traffic and spending had yet to skyrocket.

Such retailers have been running a series of discounts and promotions in recent days, hoping to capitalize on some of the ecommerce mania surrounding Amazon. Macy's offered Black Friday in July specials with an assortment of over 31,000 items on sale, while Lord & Taylor and JC Penney doled out 25% discounts. Walmart has been offering free trials for its new Shipping Pass membership, which competes directly with Prime.

The lack of huge increases in spending in the first half of the day is a sign that most retailers aren't keen to promote an Amazon-led shopping day, said Jonathan Opdyke, chief executive and co-founder of HookLogic. "Amazon brought more shopping traffic online, but didn't take away sales from other retailers," he said.

Of course, some retailers are simply promoting their own back-to-school campaigns, which typically begin this month. A spokeswoman from Target said the Minneapolis-based company, which will debut a new brand of childrenswear Cat & Jack this week, is focused in July and August on deals for school supplies, backpacks and apparel.

Seattle-based Amazon first introduced its annual Prime Day on July 15, 2015 as a way of attracting more consumers to its membership, which offers two-day shipping on most goods for an annual cost of $99. Though the deals were plentiful, consumers complained that most of the bargains were on leftover inventory rather than must-have shopping items.

By contrast, this year Amazon offered promotions on popular electronics like tablets and speakers, with average discounts ranging from 20% to 30% off, according to Market Track. Yet the day was marred early on by technical glitches as shoppers weren't able to purchase items in their shopping carts. Consumers took to Twitter to air their grievances, dubbing the issue a #PrimeDayFail and prompting Amazon to tweet "Some customers are reporting difficulty with checkout. We're working to resolve this issue quickly."

Amazon, which also owns shoe retailer Zappos, spent $417.3 million on measured media in the U.S. last year, according to the Ad Age Datacenter.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said HookLogic data showed an average of up to triple the traffic to some retail sites on Tuesday during Amazon's Prime Day promotion. Traffic increased up to three times at certain sites, but not on average across sites.

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