Amazon Prime Day Has Zero Impact on Store Traffic

by Brian Field on 07-05-18

As Amazon Prime Day approaches, we’ve explored what this now well-established retail event means for the wider retail community. Our conclusion is that, currently, store traffic is not affected at all by the web giant’s annual one-day flash sale.

Amazon launched this mid-year promotion back in July 2015, reportedly the anniversary of the founding of the company by chief executive Jeff Bezos.

Amazon Prime Day is extended to 36 hours for 2018

Amazon has announced that its Prime Day sales extravaganza will start on July 16 at 3 p.m. ET, with the event expanded for Prime members to 36 hours — six hours longer than last year. The timing is consistent with the past three years, when Prime Day occurred in the first or second full week following the celebration of July 4th/Independence Day Weekend.

While this promotion always creates a media buzz, our analysis indicates that again this year, it will likely have little impact on brick-and-mortar traffic. We’ve evaluated historical traffic trends that take into consideration our over 40 billion annual footsteps counted in over 2,100 retailer’s store locations. Since 2012 the baseline traffic doesn’t change, with or without Prime Day.

It’s interesting to note that the week Amazon targets, is generally one of the slowest traffic weeks on the brick-and-mortar retail calendar. Within those weeks, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are typically the slowest days. It isn’t until the following week that back-to-school retail traffic begins to rise, and that traffic trend is very dependent upon regional school calendars.

Historically, stores have not been affected

Amazon Prime Day 2018 impact on store foot traffic compared to prior years

This graph shows the (lack of) importance of Amazon Prime day to brick-and-mortar retailers. To explain what it shows, it’s first important to clarify that all lines represent each day’s mix of traffic as a percentage of total July traffic.

We start each graph with the week of July 4th and end it after the week of Prime Day. The years 2012, 2013 and 2014 didn’t have any Amazon Prime Days, while the past three years did. The black dots represent July 4th, which moves around the calendar based upon the day of the week it falls on, and the red star represents Prime Day. (Note that in 2016 and 2017, they fell on the same day of the week — Tuesday — of the month, so they are on top of one another in that instance.)

Aligning the calendar in this way shows the slight volatility in July Week 1 due to the movement of the Independence Day holiday. And by aligning it this way it’s clear that all three Prime Days fall on some of the lowest days of July – which were slow historically before Amazon Prime Day became an event.

In conclusion, to date, Amazon Prime Day has not affected store traffic. We’ll keep tracking this so that retailers can learn what to expect on Amazon Prime Day in the years ahead, assuming the event continues to run.

Read more posts by Brian Field

Brian Field is the Senior Director of Retail Consulting Practice for ShopperTrak, where he oversees the application of ShopperTrak's proprietary solutions to retailer-specific issues across different functional areas in order to drive top and bottom line store performance. Prior to joining ShopperTrak, Brian served in roles of increasing responsibility at Chico’s FAS Inc., including as the director of corporate store operations and finance. Brian has spent nearly four decades in the industry, and his experience includes: store sales and management, training, merchandising, strategic planning and analysis for brands as diverse as David’s Bridal, Circuit City and Macy's.