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Heading into the peak of the holiday shopping season, Amazon is continuing this year's theme of early holiday deals.
The news: The ecommerce giant is set to hold a 48-hour Black Friday sale event. Deals will kick off Nov. 24, which is Thanksgiving, and run through Friday, Nov. 25.
- Millions of deals will be available at a variety of price points. The company listed brands including Moroccanoil, Peter Thomas Roth, Drybar hair care products and De'Longhi Espresso Machines.
- Deals will be available through amazon.com/blackfriday, on the Amazon shopping app, or by asking, “Alexa, what are my deals?”
- Surprise deals will drop every 30 minutes during some periods of the two-day event.
- Early deals, including Deal of the Day, will also be available in the days leading up to the event.
A few takeaways:
Black Friday emphasizes price. A Black Friday sale usually brings discounts, but value and bundling is especially important this year. At a time of elevated inflation, consumers are looking to save money. It was true of Prime Day, and it’s true of the holidays, as well. Amazon specifically called attention to curated lists it has prepared, such as stocking stuffers under $10, gifts for teens under $25 and electronics under $100. Amazon is also offering Prime members the ability to save 25% when they spend $50 on select everyday essentials from Amazon brands through the Stock Up & Save program. This is designed to help prepare for holiday events.
Bucking the Thanksgiving closures trend. From Apple to Walmart, many retailers with physical locations have announced they will be closing their stores for Thanksgiving. But Amazon is sticking with its theme of starting early, and getting Black Friday underway even as turkeys are still in the oven. It comes after Amazon held its first-ever Prime Early Access Sale in October, which was positioned as a holiday kickoff in itself. The Holiday Beauty Haul followed in late October and early November.
Pressure to deliver: The early events underscore how ecommerce can provide flexibility to shoppers, and create multiple moments to deliver holiday deals, as opposed to focusing on a Black Friday doorbuster. But they also come as Amazon faces a more difficult retail environment that is arriving this holiday season with inflation and costs high. The company slashed its revenue outlook for the fourth quarter in its most recent earnings report, with CFO Brian Olsavsky saying the company sees a “slower growth period” on the horizon. The company has also been tightening its belt, and its share price has dropping. It could soon join the ranks of tech companies and retailers making layoffs. On Monday, the New York Times reported that it plans to let go of about 10,000 workers, including many in the retail division, as soon as this week. It all comes as talk of a recession in 2023 continues to loom.“We're very optimistic about the holiday, but we're realistic that there's various factors weighing on people's wallets, and we're not quite sure how strong holiday spending will be versus last year,” Olsavsky told analysts in October. “And we're ready for a variety of outcomes. But we know the consumers when they're looking for good deals, and that positions us well.”
Trending in Shopper Experience
Labor disputes on the West Coast could cause further disruption heading into peak season.
When the first half of 2023 is complete, imports are expected to dip 22% below last year.
That’s according to new data from the Global Port Tracker, which is compiled monthly by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
The decline has been building over the entire year, as imports dipped in the winter. With the spring, volume started to rebound. In April, the major ports handled 1.78 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units. That was an increase of 9.6% from March. Still it was a decline of 21.3% year over year – reflecting the record cargo hauled in over the spike in consumer demand of 2021 and the inventory glut 2022.
In 2023, consumer spending is remaining resilient with in a strong job market, despite the collision of inflation and interest rates. The economy remains different from pre-pandemic days, but shipping volumes are beginning to once again resemble the time before COVID-19.
“Economists and shipping lines increasingly wonder why the decline in container import demand is so much at odds with continuous growth in consumer demand,” said Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett, in a statement. “Import container shipments have returned the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019 and appear likely to stay there for a while.”
Retailers and logistics professionals alike are looking to the second half of the year for a potential upswing. Peak shipping season occurs in the summer, which is in preparation for peak shopping season over the holidays.
Yet disruption could occur on the West Coast if labor issues can’t be settled. This week, ports from Los Angeles to Seattle reported closures and slowdowns as ongoing union disputes boil over, CNBC reported. NRF called on the Biden administration to intervene.
“Cargo volume is lower than last year but retailers are entering the busiest shipping season of the year bringing in holiday merchandise. The last thing retailers and other shippers need is ongoing disruption at the ports,” aid NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “If labor and management can’t reach agreement and operate smoothly and efficiently, retailers will have no choice but to continue to take their cargo to East Coast and Gulf Coast gateways. We continue to urge the administration to step in and help the parties reach an agreement and end the disruptions so operations can return to normal. We’ve had enough unavoidable supply chain issues the past two years. This is not the time for one that can be avoided.”