Amazon’s pandemic-delayed Prime Day will start Oct. 13

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Amazon.com Inc. is about to test whether consumers who have taken to online shopping in huge numbers during the pandemic will spend even more for deals during the company’s Prime Day sales event.

The largest online retailer will offer discounts for paying members of its speedy-shipping and video streaming service beginning Oct. 13. The two days of discounts come a month after Walmart Inc. launched its own subscription program, Walmart+, aimed at the success Amazon has had in encouraging loyal shoppers to spend more.

Amazon early this year said there were some 150 million members of Prime, which costs $119 a year in the U.S. The company introduced the discount shopping event in 2015 as part anniversary celebration, part initiative to fuel sales during the summer doldrums. As Amazon grew, the bonanza nudged other large retailers to launch their own sales to draft off the interest in Prime Day.

Amazon didn’t need to conjure any holidays to boost sales this year. The company, inundated with orders from people eager to avoid physical stores, posted record revenue of $88.9 billion during the second quarter. Analysts with Cowen & Co. said in a note to clients last month that Amazon would likely use Prime Day as a trial run to test its growing warehousing and logistics ahead of what is widely expected to be a record holiday shopping season for online retail.In a statement announcing its Prime Day plans, Amazon acknowledged the harm the pandemic had done to small businesses, and sought to portray its online bazaar as a way to support them. Shoppers who spend $10 with a select list of small merchants on Amazon’s marketplace during the next two weeks will receive a $10 credit to spend on Prime Day, the company said.

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