Amazon kickstarted the holiday shopping season with its exclusive “Prime Early Access Sale,” a two-day extravaganza for members. Aimed at customers with tightened Christmas budgets due to inflation, this sales event follows in the footsteps of the successful Prime Day. Not wanting to be left behind, Walmart, Best Buy, Kohl’s, and Target have all launched their own discount events to entice shoppers.

This year, retailers are strategically vying for consumer dollars earlier than ever before. With a potentially challenging holiday season ahead, they hope to attract customers with early discounts. “The early bird catches the dollars,” remarked Carol Spieckerman, president at consultancy Spieckerman Retail. Walmart’s “Rollbacks and More” sale, occurring from October 10-13, offers deals on a wide range of products. Kohl’s and Best Buy also have their 48-hour sales coinciding with Amazon’s event, while Target scheduled its “Deal Days” from October 6-8 to avoid direct competition.

Analysts predict that consumers in the middle to upper-income range will take advantage of these early deals to jumpstart their holiday shopping. However, those with lower incomes may wait until closer to their actual needs to make purchases. The combination of inflation and early discounting is anticipated to slow overall holiday spending this year. According to Adobe Analytics, US online holiday sales are projected to grow at the slowest pace since 2015, with a modest 2.5% increase to reach $209.7 billion.

The early commencement of the holiday shopping season shouldn’t come as a surprise. Major retailers like Target and Walmart have been offering significant discounts for months to clear excess inventory resulting from reduced discretionary spending. In fact, some retailers even introduced competing deals during Amazon’s Prime Day event in July. Adobe estimates that Amazon generated approximately $12 billion in sales during that event alone.

It’s clear that retailers are resorting to aggressive promotions to attract shoppers this holiday season. “This holiday season, retailers are resorting to blunt force promotions to coax shoppers,” noted Spieckerman. As the competition heats up and consumers navigate the challenges of inflated prices, it remains to be seen how successful these early discount events will be in driving holiday sales.

Useful links:
Target holiday shopping event
Big box stores holiday strategy