WASHINGTON — Black Friday is more than a month away, but holiday sales — much like pumpkin spice season — are inching earlier and earlier. Amazon is planning a second Prime Day-like event starting Tuesday, while Walmart and Target have their own plans for holiday sales in October.
During the Oct. 11-12 "Prime Early Access Sale," Amazon Prime members will get early access to discounts. The Seattle-based e-commerce giant has long used these kinds of sales events to lure people into its $139-a-year Prime membership, which offers faster shipping and better deals.
In a preview, the company promised deals on electronics, home and kitchen items, toys, beauty products and clothing. Some of the steepest discounts, as is often the case with Amazon sales, are expected to be on Amazon-brand electronics.
This sales event, following a recent slowdown in Amazon's retail business, marks the first time the company has held a major sales drive twice in a year.
Now 2022 isn't the first year American customers are expected to do their holiday shopping early. In 2021, Americans shopped earlier to avoid shipping delays and supply-chain issues. The coronavirus pandemic has also shifted holiday shopping trends in recent years.
Analysts think inflation-wary customers will keep shopping early this year to spread out their spending and avoid higher prices later on.
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Joining Target, Walmart and Best Buy in the 'early crowd'
Amazon isn't the only major company anticipating early holiday shopping.
Target offered holiday deals from Oct. 6 to Oct. 8, a few days earlier than last year. It also began price matching last week, a holiday policy that runs until Dec. 24. Target has one of the more generous price-matching offers in retail, countering offers from more than two dozen other stores.
Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, is also expanding the window for returns by more than a month. Gift returns will now be accepted between Oct. 1 and Jan. 31, compared with last year's return window of Nov. 1 to Jan. 24. The company said it is offering a wider assortment of items this year with more new brands and more Walmart-exclusives than a year ago.
"What Amazon wants to do is be part of that early crowd and get a bite of the cherry," Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail, said last month. “And the best way to do that is, rather than having little deals here and there, is to have a big day that’s almost like a holiday kickoff.”
Best Buy also announced its holiday kickoff with a "48-hour Flash Sale" on Oct. 11-12. The Minnesota-based retailer also confirmed Monday it plans to keep its stores closed on Thanksgiving, for the third year in a row.
Holiday hiring begins
Holiday shopping season means more hands on deck for many big chains.
Amazon announced plans this month to hire 150,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees across its warehouses ahead of the holiday season, the same number as last year.
Target plans to hire up to 100,000 seasonal employees in stores and distribution centers this holiday season, in line with a year ago.
Walmart plans to hire 40,000 U.S. workers for the holidays, a majority of them seasonal workers. That's a far more conservative approach than the retailer took in 2021, when it hired 150,000 for the holidays.
On the shipping side of things, UPS plans to hire more than 100,000 workers to help handle the holiday rush this season. That's in line with hiring the previous two years.