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Amazon reaps rewards as shoppers use Prime Day to stock up on essentials

The news: Prime Day gave US ecommerce sales a 6.1% boost this year, with sales reaching $12.7 billion, per Adobe Analytics.

  • While Amazon declined to reveal exact figures, the company said July 11—the first day of Prime Day—was its biggest-ever sales day.

Unpacking the numbers: Higher discounts spurred shoppers to spend, although most used the opportunity to stock up on household goods, necessities, and back-to-school purchases rather than big-ticket items.

  • Average order spend was up. The average order size ticked up to $54.05, compared with last year’s $52.26, per Numerator. Most households—65%—placed at least two orders; average household spend reached $155.67.
  • Home goods, household essentials, and apparel and shoes were top sellers. Nearly three in 10 (28% of) shoppers purchased home goods, while 26% went for essentials and 24% bought apparel and shoes.
  • Amazon was the big ecommerce winner. Online sales at retailers not named Amazon fell 7% on the first day of Prime Day compared with 2022, per Salesforce. But some retailers, like Walmart and Target, benefited by holding sales events before and after Prime Day.

Penny pinching: Despite shoppers’ enthusiasm, it’s clear that consumers are still feeling financial pressure.

  • Buy now, pay later (BNPL) usage surged during the event. Shoppers used BNPL for 6.5% of ecommerce orders placed on July 11 and 12, a 20% increase year-over-year, per Adobe.
  • Consumers are waiting for sales to make purchases. Over half (52%) of shoppers said they held out on purchasing items until they went on sale for Prime Day, according to Numerator.
  • Shoppers are comparison-shopping to find the best deal. Fifty-four percent of those who shopped on Amazon for Prime Day compared prices with other retailers—a remarkable change compared with 2021, when only one-third of shoppers did so.
  • Shoppers were on a budget. Nearly six in 10 (57% of) Prime Day items sold cost less than $20.

Looking ahead: Prime Day’s success shows that sales are still a highly effective way to spur consumer spending. But the growing popularity of alternative financing methods like BNPL, as well as the shift away from discretionary categories like electronics in favor of household goods and essentials, underscores the strain that consumers are under.

  • Shoppers’ price sensitivities are likely to be on full display for the rest of the year. For example, back-to-school spending could fall by as much as 10% this year as inflation drives parents to search for deals, per a report by Deloitte.
  • As a result, we expect US retail sales growth to slow to 2.9% this year.