Experts have said changes to consumer behaviours driven by the pandemic, combined with the shifting date of the event, could hamper sales at this year’s Amazon Prime Day.

Last year, Prime Day was moved to mid-October as Amazon introduced policies to receive increased volumes of items that were in demand from consumers stuck at home. As a result, shipment of non-essential goods was restricted, as well as advertising around these items. 

Amazon did not disclose full sales figures for the October event but reported that third-party sales reached $3.5bn (£2.5bn) during 2020’s Prime Day, a nearly 60% year-on-year increase.

With this year’s event running from June 21-22, the return to a summer date raises the question of how consumers will respond eight months after the last Prime Day has taken place. 

IMRG strategy and insight director Andy Mulcahy said: “The date is a slightly confusing aspect for people.”

Mulchahy also said the move towards regular online shopping during the pandemic may impact how much of a draw it is: “It’s been an online bonanza for the past 16 months. Does a discount day have the same sort of appeal in the context of the current situation?”

IMRG Capgemini Retail Index revealed that online sales recorded their biggest drop in volume ever last month. Mulcahy pointed out that despite this fall, online sales in May 2021 remained 46% higher than the equivalent figure in May 2019, illustrating that the appetite for online spending remains. 

Retail Week’s research director Lisa Byfield-Green said: “This year’s event is likely to be more muted than last year, simply owing to the timing. It does not precede Christmas and also comes at a time when physical retail is showing signs of recovery, although online remains a significant growth channel.”

As with other Prime Day events, the experts said that electricals will perform strongly as a category.

Byfield-Green said: “Amazon is likely to use the event to promote growth in categories such as electronics, particularly its own Alexa devices. It has introduced discounts for newer Amazon brands across grocery and fashion, and this will be an opportunity to highlight these brands and raise customer awareness.”

Another category expected to do well over June 21 and 22 is health and beauty. Edge by Ascential head of market insights Chris Elliott added: “Areas like fragrance and cosmetics are seeing a lot of promotion as people are now almost entirely free to go out and return to offices.” 

Other retailers are trying to capitalise on eager shoppers heading online. Some UK retailers that are offering deals this year include Currys PC World, The Very Group, The Entertainer and Boots.

Elliott explained that the number of companies participating has fallen since 2018 due to associated costs and competing “against the might of Amazon”.

Major retailers stateside are also attempting to rival Amazon with ongoing promotions. Walmart’s Deals for Days will last for four days this week online and offline, similar to Target’s equivalent offering Deal Days.