Amazon’s pandemic-delayed Prime Day may disappoint, Citi says

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Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, pictured on September 13, 2018.

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Amazon‘s pandemic-delayed Prime Day appears to have been more disappointing than previous years, according to a note from Citi analysts published on Friday.

Citi looked at web traffic information collected by market research firm SimilarWeb and found that Prime Day 2020 web traffic was basically flat year over year, compared to almost 8% growth in 2019.

Amazon’s publicity around Prime Day results was also muted compared to its language in the past, Citi analysts said. The company said Prime Day, which ran from Tuesday to Wednesday, provided a boost to third-party sellers, generating more than $3.5 billion in sales for the small and medium-sized businesses on its marketplace.

The messaging was starkly different from years past. Citi analysts pointed to previous Prime Day results between 2016 to 2019, wherein Amazon characterized the event as its “biggest day ever” or the “largest shopping event in Amazon history.”

“Based on the language of Amazon’s press releases and SimilarWeb data, it appears that Prime Day 2020 was not the ‘biggest day ever,'” Citi analysts said.

The analysts cited several factors that may have led to an underwhelming Prime Day, including the delayed kickoff from July to October, change in consumer behavior due to the coronavirus pandemic and proximity to the holiday shopping season.

Even if Prime Day proved to be disappointing, Amazon still stands to benefit from the accelerated shift to online shopping spurred by the pandemic, Citi analysts said. Prime Day and the holiday shopping rush are expected to help fuel a record fourth quarter for Amazon.

Amazon stock was slightly up in mid-day trading on Friday.

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