Kayla Marci

June 7, 2021

How fashion retailers squared up to Amazon’s Prime Days

Retailers are now focused on discount depth over breadth of products to move through older stock to compete with Prime Day.

Despite the three month delay, Amazon’s two-day Prime Sale event is forecasted by JP Morgan to rake in $7.5 billion, a 42% uptick YoY.

Not to be outdone, retailers across all segments have launched sales of their own to officially kick-start holiday shopping, clear slow-moving products and win back market share from the e-comm giant.

Ahead of 2021's event slated for June 21st and 22nd, we analyze how last year's Prime Days shaped up. Read on as we reveal how major players responded and the key promotions offered.

Interested in knowing how EDITED can help uncover your competitors discounting strategies? Get started here.

2020’s top takeaways

  • Despite a promotion-heavy year so far, a lower proportion of products were offered as discounted for everyone compared to Prime events in 2019. However, the rise of membership and loyalty programs indicates retailers are rivaling Amazon by also creating promotions available to members only.
  • The average advertised reduction over the Prime Days increased YoY across both the US and UK, while 50% off was the most popular promotion in communications. Deeper discounts didn’t equal higher sell outs – the promotion that most resonated with consumers was between 10-20% off.
  • With the pandemic far from over, retailers took this opportunity to reduce products that aren’t typical of the Zoom and comfort dressing aesthetic. Dresses and bottoms received hefty discounts while reductions for sleepwear were shallower.
  • While some retailers launched sales intentionally to challenge Amazon, the majority repackaged the event as a Mid-Season or Fall Sale.
Amazon Prime Day
Image via Amazon

The discounts taken

Site-wide offers by core fashion retailers differed from last year’s event, which took place in July. Following aggressive discounting implemented since March to cope with store closures, the proportion of products reduced was pulled back in both the US and UK.

Averaging over the two days, 30% of products were advertised on sale in the US compared to 46% in 2019 while the UK moved from reducing 69% of ranges to 64%. Both markets offered deeper reductions with the US upping last year’s average from 40% to 43% and the UK 34% to 36%.

The US recorded a higher number of products selling out of majority SKUs over the two days than the UK. This eclipsed last year’s results by 78%. While the wider market presented steeper markdowns on average, diving into the data reveals a different story. The discount brackets seeing the highest proportion of sell outs were between 10-20%, proving retailers don’t need to take drastic cuts to generate hype for sales events.

Amazon Prime Day

The categories reduced

Prime Day in July usually serves as the beginning of Back-To-School shopping. The later date saw the UK discount girlswear at an average of 42% and boyswear at 40% – higher than menswear at 39% and womenswear at 35%. In the US, menswear saw the highest promotion at an average of 43%.

Across both regions, dresses received the highest proportion of discounted products with retailers trying to move the category, which has been impacted by event cancellations and the casualization brought on by pandemic dressing.

On the flipside, sleepwear remained relatively unmarked by discounting with this category seeing some of the shallowest reductions over the period. This is a smart move by retailers to retain this category’s value, which is expected to see a renewed interest, particularly in the UK as stricter lockdown measures are enforced.

Similarly, retailers attached deeper markdowns for bottoms instead of tops, which have become a hero category thanks to the new way of working and consumer’s prioritizing dressing for Zoom – a trend that will accelerate with the second wave.

Amazon aAmazon Prime Day 2020.002

Key messages & offers

Retailers weren’t as blatant referring to “Prime” sales as last year, with the event reframed as a Mid-Season or Fall Sale event. Target continued to run its Deal Days while Debenhams promoted a 48-hour flash sale. Accent Clothing encouraged consumers to support small businesses over Prime Day – a suggested strategy for Black Friday alternatives. Retailers such as Claire’s, Venus and LIVELY communicated savings instead of discounting, positioning the event to reward the customer and diminishing the risk of devaluing products.

Promotions of 50% were the most communicated and retailers used this opportunity to highlight hard-to-shift products seen with suits at Topman and dresses at Wallis – the latter being the most frequently mentioned category in subject lines over the two days. While Target and DSW clapped back at Amazon, advertising sales with no membership required, exclusive deals were prominent at boohooMAN and Nike – indicative of the rise of membership and loyalty programs.

Subject line analysis

Based on subject lines of email communications sent between Oct 13 – 14, 2020 at a cross-section of US & UK retailers.

Discount codes

A selection of noteworthy discount codes that stood out within retailer email communications between Oct 13 – 14, 2020:

• Reebok (US) – HELLYEAH – Get 45% off sitewide

• Macy’s (US) – THANKYOU – Extra 30% off

• Skechers (US) – PRIMETIME – Take 25% off your order

• Equipment (UK) – EQFRIENDS – 30% off sitewide

• DSW (US) – FALLIDAY – 30% off everything

• Club Monaco (US) – 24HOURS – Extra 40% off all sales styles

• Shoes.com (US) – EMLPRIMETIME50 -$50 off $125 plus free shipping

• Accessorize (UK) – LASTCHANCE -An extra 10% off all sale

Amazon’s fashion homepage

Amazon Prime Day
Amazon UK Fashion Homepage Oct 13, 2020

Membership deals

Prime mentions





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Note: Average discount % does not include basket codes applied at checkout