NPD: Pandemic, Delayed Amazon Prime Days Will Upend ‘Black Friday’ Retail Holiday

The traditional Black Friday weekend start of the holiday shopping season is in disarray this year, upended by the coronavirus pandemic and Amazon’s rescheduling of its Prime Days from the summer to October, The NPD Group said Oct. 9.

Amazon rescheduled its Prime Days to Oct. 13-14 — just 44 days before Black Friday on Nov. 27.

Last year, the Amazon Prime Days e-commerce sales extravaganza was the third-largest online shopping period, after Thanksgiving’s Black Friday and successive Cyber Monday retail events, according to The NPD Group.

This year’s delay to mid-October promises to significantly alter the winter retail landscape, say NPD analysts.

“Prime Days’ timing later in the year creates a pull to move aggressive holiday campaigns earlier, and opens the door for deals from retailers of all sizes,” Marshal Cohn, chief  industry advisor, retail, at NPD, said in a statement.

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Cohen said the infusion of Prime Days and other retail events into the holiday season is going to transform the balance of 2020 for consumers and retailers at all levels, in addition to industry analysts.

Stephen Baker, VP, industry advisor at NPD, says Prime Days is occurring at a time when most consumer electronics manufacturers will have already launched price discounts to jumpstart holiday shopping.

Baker said October is typically the weakest month of the year for technology sales, especially for premium technology items as manufacturers and retailers “re-merchandize and re-balance” older products for promotion while readying the newest technology for purchase. But with the pandemic, many CE manufacturers are delaying product launches.

“We are anticipating this to be among the biggest Octobers ever due to the need to elongate the holiday season and the lateness of some of the normal September product introductions (such as iPhones),” Baker said.

Indeed, Cohen contends Prime Days’ delay will further undermine consumer spending on Black Friday.

“Though it’s been evolving, don’t expect Black Friday to look at all like years past, and not just because of the consumer’s hesitancy to avoid crowds and their newfound fondness of shopping online,” Cohen said. “The infusion of Prime Days into the holiday season will play to this year’s emphasis on shopping early being better.”