An employee looks for items in one of the corridors at an Amazon warehouse.
Carlos Jasso | Reuters
Amazon has made several recent moves that signal its annual Prime Day event could kick off in the coming weeks.
An internal Amazon email obtained by The Verge said the two-day shopping event will take place on Oct. 13 and 14, with an official announcement set for Sept. 27.
The company confirmed in July that it would be postponing Prime Day in the U.S. and said in its second-quarter earnings report that the event would take place in the fourth quarter. It had previously told third-party sellers to use the week of Oct. 5 as a “placeholder date” for Prime Day promotions and coupons.
Now, with the fourth quarter about a week away, Amazon appears to be preparing brands, sellers and employees in its operations network for the marquee shopping event to be announced soon.
Amazon informed warehouse workers last Friday that full-time employees will not be able to submit new vacation requests between Oct. 13 and 20, “in preparation for a busy fall,” according to an internal notice, which was viewed by CNBC and first reported by CNET.
The company has also restricted brands from submitting certain deals during the week of Oct. 13, signaling that this year’s Prime Day will take place around that time, said Fahim Naim, a former Amazon executive and CEO of e-commerce consultancy eShopportunity. A notice viewed by CNBC shows that vendors can submit limited-time promotions, or “Lightning Deals,” up until Oct. 11.
An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC in a statement that the company hasn’t announced any dates for Prime Day.
Prime Day, which started in 2015, is typically held in July. The discount celebration is partially designed to secure new Prime subscribers, to promote Amazon’s products and services and to provide a sales boost in the middle of the year.
The delay from July was widely expected, and sellers and brands have been preparing for it for months. Speculation of a delay began to build in April, as Amazon experienced unprecedented demand from stuck-at-home shoppers during the coronavirus crisis, causing supply-chain shortages and longer delivery times.
Amazon faces a challenging few months ahead with Prime Day and the holiday shopping period, often referred to as “peak season” inside Amazon’s warehouses, taking place so close to one another. The company has been working to make sure it has enough space to store sellers and vendors’ goods in its warehouses to accommodate the back-to-back shopping rush.
The timing of this year’s Prime Day will be crucial to making sure Amazon has enough goods in stock on best-selling items in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, said Andy Thompson, director of marketplace services at Booyah Advertising, which helps brands and merchants sell products on Amazon.
Naim said Amazon may also be cutting back on deals brands can submit for Prime Day and the holidays as a result of its need to closely manage inventory flow in its warehouses.
“The hypothesis is that they’ve had to limit the number of [stock-keeping units] and quantities they’d allow brands to run deals on as a result of the fulfillment centers being overwhelmed currently,” Naim said. “Will be interesting to see how it goes.”