Amazon said the latest edition of Prime Day, the multi-day summer sales bonanza, was its most popular shopping event yet, beating out last year’s combined Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Prime members purchased more than 175 million items on Monday and Tuesday, per Amazon, a 75 percent rise over the 100 million items sold last year. Amazon didn’t say how much Prime members spent over the two-day period, but it did note that “independent small and medium-sized businesses” sold more than $2 billion of items during the event.
Overjoyed by the success of Prime Day, CEO Jeff Bezos shared a “thank you” message from atop the signature spheres on Amazon’s Seattle campus. Bezos also issued the following statement on Prime Day, though we’re not sure if he was sitting in a desk chair or scaling a huge structure when he dictated it.
“We want to thank Prime members all around the world,” Bezos said. “Members purchased millions of Alexa-enabled devices, received tens of millions of dollars in savings by shopping from Whole Foods Market and bought more than $2 billion of products from independent small and medium-sized businesses. Huge thank you to Amazonians everywhere who made this day possible for customers.”
Amazon has offered the same message of record-breaking Prime Day sales year after year, but the trend shows that the tech giant has managed to create a major shopping event with staying power out of nothing during a traditionally slow period. And it’s not just Amazon that benefitted. Rival retailers like Walmart, Target and more all held big sales events.
According to Adobe Analytics, large retailers — those with more than $1 billion in annual sales — saw revenue rise 68 percent during the Prime Day period compared to the average Monday-Tuesday. Smaller, niche retailers also got a piece of the action, with a combined 28 percent lift over the two days after those businesses actually saw revenue decline during last year’s Prime Day event.
”Prime Day has become an indisputable summer shopping holiday, greatly benefiting online retailers that can attract consumers to their site through compelling email campaigns or offering value-add services like buy online, pick up in-store,” said Jason Woosley, Adobe Analytics vice president of commerce product and platform at Adobe.
The sales event has become a part of popular culture as well, with celebrities calling out Prime Day and joining the delivery crew.
As Amazon’s retail side counted its cash, other parts of the company stayed busy dealing with protests and political conflicts. Activists around the world seized on Prime Day as an opportunity to protest and air their grievances against the company, turning the shopping holiday into a flashpoint in the conflict between Amazon and labor groups.
Workers at an Amazon fulfillment center organized a strike on Monday, demanding Amazon convert more temps into full-time employees and release some of the pressure to meet quotas. Activists also used social media to organize a boycott of Amazon products and services.
Amazon responded by criticizing unions for “conjuring misinformation to work in their favor.” The company said Monday it is proud of the benefits and opportunities it offers to employees, including in its fulfillment centers. Though Amazon warehouse workers are not unionized, the company raised its minimum wage last year to $15 per hour.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, a frequent critic of Amazon, took shots at the tech giant on social media and expressed support for worker protests. On Tuesday, Amazon posted a blog entry reiterating its invitation to Sanders to visit one of its fulfillment centers. “He committed to visiting, but to date has never stepped foot in one of our buildings,” the company wrote, before defending how it handles safety inside the warehouses.
With Prime Day wrapped up, the world awoke to news that the European Commission is opening an investigation to determine if Amazon uses its position to hurt competition in its marketplace. Regulators will look closely at the contracts between Amazon and third-party sellers in its marketplace to figure out how the data Amazon aggregates impacts competition.
Confirmation of the investigation came the day after U.S. lawmakers grilled the tech giant about its relationships with third-party sellers during a wide-ranging anti-trust hearing that also included representatives from Google, Apple and Facebook. Amazon General Counsel Nate Sutton said its data on popular items is publicly available and claimed the company does not use individual seller information to inform the private-label products it develops.
“We use data to serve our customers,” Sutton said. “We don’t use individual seller data directly to compete with them.”