They used to say “Shop until you drop.” Well, this week we’ll find out if that’s true.
This week could see as much as $15 billion in online sales as an unprecedented number of big online promotions kicked off today and will run through at least tomorrow at a range of retailers including the Big 3: Amazon, Walmart and Target. But they are no means alone: other retailers trying to jump on the shopping bandwagon this week include Best Buy, Ace Hardware stores, Nordstrom and a range of independents from direct-to-consumer sellers to regional furniture players to those retailers selling beauty, apparel and virtually anything else.
“It’s the kick-off to Black Friday and the entire holiday shopping season,” Dana Telsey, head of Telsey Advisory Group, told CNBC Tuesday morning. She forecast that home, electronics and hard goods categories would be the best performers for these sales, with apparel seeing weaker sales.
Amazon’s Prime Days are expected to lead the way in this promotional charge, with sales in the $10 to $11 billion range, according to Telsey. That’s up 40% from last year when the event was held in July. Amazon rescheduled it to this month due to the pandemic and the resulting logistics issues in the consumer products supply chain.
Some 150 million people may be shopping on Amazon during the two-day event, Telsey said. That will no doubt be added to the numbers for Walmart’s Big Save and Target’s Deal Days events which are running concurrently. Coresight Research says more than one in four Americans will make an Amazon purchase with one in 10 planning to make a purchase at one of the rival promotions.
Adding it all up — Amazon’s expected sales and those registered by other retailers — it is not unreasonable to project that close to $15 billion in retail sales will be rung up before things shut down later this week.
All of which raises the question of what this will do to purchasing patterns during the more traditional holiday shopping season from Black Friday weekend through to the end of the year and post-Christmas promotions. Are these purchases this week largely replacing later business or are they in addition? As with everything this Covid year, there is no historical pattern to fall back on and say this is how it happened last time.
Variables like the election, a second wave of Covid and whatever other unexpected twists and turns the end of the year produce make it virtually impossible to make accurate predictions about what’s to come.
The only thing certain is that this week could see the two biggest shopping days in American e-commerce history. Last year Black Friday sales were about $7.2 billion online. Given the level of shopping pandemonium this year, that number could be topped by the time the sun sets on Tuesday.