retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Amazon said yesterday that third-party sellers on its Marketplace generated more than $3.5 billion in sales, saying that this represented "an increase of nearly 60% compared with last year and a record for the small and midsize businesses that make up the marketplace," CNBC reports.

The company did not provide figures for total 2020 Prime Day sales, though inevitably there shortly will be estimates from a variety of organizations and sources.  

DigitalCommerce 360, for example, estimates that "Amazon’s sales on Prime Day hit $10.40 billion globally over the two-day period spanning Oct. 13 and Oct. 14, up from $7.16 billion during the 48-hour event in July 2019."

CNBC writes, "Third-party sellers are of growing importance to Amazon, accounting for about 58% of the company’s total merchandise sold. At that percentage, Amazon stands to have generated at least $7 billion in sales during this year’s Prime Day. Previously, JPMorgan forecast this year’s event could bring in revenue of $7.5 billion, while eMarketer targeted sales of close to $10 billion."

CNN reported that Amazon went to great pains to emphasize "how small businesses benefited from Prime Day instead. The change comes as Amazon faces intense scrutiny from lawmakers about its power over independent merchants that sell goods through its website and other tactics that critics argue stifle competition.

"Amazon said in a press release Thursday that Prime Day, a two-day event that took place earlier this week marked the 'two biggest days ever' for small and medium-sized businesses. Prime Day usually takes place in July but was rescheduled this year due to the coronavirus."

KC's View:

I think that the other day I suggested that I'd bet the over when guessing about how much business Amazon would do during the Prime Day promotion this year.  Probably got that right.  (It wasn't a hard bet.)

I have to admit, though, that the Prime Day stories that I found the most interesting were ones like the piece by Michelle Singletary in the Washington Post that argued it is important to remember one thing - no matter how much money Amazon or any other retailer tell you they are saving you, the fact is that "you never save when you spend … A sale is just a retailer’s ploy to get you to think you’re saving money on your purchase."

Which is why I nosed around Amazon a little bit this week, out of curiosity, but didn't spend money on anything I wouldn't have bought anyway.

There also was a piece in The New Republic that took a moral position against Amazon and Prime Day.  Here's an excerpt:

"This year, in the lead-up to Amazon Prime Day, Forbes reported that Jeff Bezos and his ex-wife Mackenzie Scott had respectively gotten $8.8 billion and $3 billion richer over the course of a week, thanks to a rebound in Amazon share prices. Because Bezos’s fortune has grown so astronomically throughout the pandemic—that is, during the same cataclysmic event that destroyed the economy and put as many as 40 million people out of work—updates on his snowballing wealth are at this point hardly shocking (if no less nauseating). But this year, the same annual shopping event that lines his already overstuffed pockets could potentially be a matter of life and death for those lower down on the company ladder.

"According to at least one estimate, Amazon is expected to rake in close to $10 billion in sales from this year’s Prime Day, which usually takes place in July but was rescheduled this summer because of the pandemic. (How thoughtful!) Its workers, of course, won’t be sharing in that bounty unless you count some mandatory overtime. This year, Prime Day also comes right on the heels of a new disclosure by the company—following pressure from workers and labor unions—that nearly 20,000 of its employees had tested positive for Covid-19 to date. As CNN reported, Amazon workers scheduled for Prime Day shifts said they were worried about crowded warehouses and the strain of extra work; one union in the U.K. warned that the increased staffing required by the event could lead to further Covid-19 outbreaks. (Amazon, for its part, dismissed this rather feasible scenario as 'scaremongering.')"

Such stories remind us that it is not just about dollars.