Amazon delays Prime Day until October due to coronavirus

Amazon Prime Day

  • Amazon gave third-party sellers a placeholder date of the week of Oct. 5 for Prime Day, according to an email obtained by CNBC.
  • The company has delayed its annual shopping event several times in recent months due to coronavirus-related constraints.
  • Amazon has been working to return its logistics operations to normal after it was hit with a wave of online orders at the height of the pandemic, which resulted in delivery delays and inventory shortages.

Amazon is postponing its marquee shopping event Prime Day until at least early October.

The company had previously targeted September as the potential timing for Prime Day, but on Wednesday, Amazon informed third-party sellers that the date could be pushed back another month, according to the email, which was viewed by CNBC and first reported by Business Insider.

The email advises sellers to use the week of Oct. 5 as a “placeholder date” for Prime Day promotions and coupons, but cautions that “exact Prime Day dates have not been announced.”

“A definitive date will be announced as we get closer to the event,” the email states. “We are looking forward to seeing submissions that offer the most delight to customers during one of the biggest shopping days of the year, Prime Day!”

An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC in a statement: “We have not made any announcements regarding Prime Day.”

Prime Day, which started in 2015, is typically held in July. The discount celebration is partially designed to secure new Prime members, as well as to promote Amazon’s own products and services and provide a sales boost in the middle of the year.

Over the past few months, brands and sellers have been preparing for Amazon to delay this year’s Prime Day. Amazon in June held a fashion sales event, called the “Big Style Sale,” in an attempt to provide a boost for sellers feeling the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. It was also meant to help sellers get rid of excess inventory in lieu of Prime Day.

Amazon has been working to return its logistics operations to normal after it was hit with a wave of online orders at the height of the pandemic, which resulted in delivery delays and inventory shortages.

Since then, operations at Amazon’s warehouses have slowly returned to normal, but the company now faces new coronavirus outbreaks across the country, which could threaten to upend its logistics operations again. The recent surge in Covid-19 cases has already resulted in some shipping delays domestically and abroad, said Fahim Naim, a former Amazon executive and CEO of e-commerce consultancy eShopportunity.

Naim added that some of his clients have sold through their inventory due to the surge in online traffic both on and off Amazon and have been scrambling to get items back in stock. Inventory shortages, as well as warehouse delays, have “added much uncertainty in recent weeks,” Naim said.

Amazon may not delay Prime Day beyond October, as it would coincide with the holiday shopping season, which typically kicks off in November, Naim said.

“That said, if there is any company that can convince customers to buy big in consecutive months, it would be Amazon,” Naim added.

— CNBC’s Lauren Thomas contributed to this report.

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