On October 10 and 11 of 2023, Amazon held its second October sales event, “Prime Big Deal Days,” a two-day event filled with “some of [the] best savings of the holiday season.” October used to seem a little early for holiday talk, but now it’s the kickoff for holiday shopping in many consumers’ eyes. Last year, nearly one-quarter of US consumers started their holiday shopping in October or earlier and revealed that one driver was the special deals offered earlier in the season.

As in years past, other retailers competed with Amazon around the October shopping event, so on Oct. 10 and 11, we reviewed 50 brand and retailer websites, spanning numerous categories. Here are our key findings:

  • Nearly three-quarters of these 50 retailers and brands had special offers. Of these retailers and brands, 70% ran some form of a promotion, but only eight held a sitewide sale. Instead, many offered sales on select products or ran additional promotions in their already-discounted sales sections. Additionally, just two retailers offered free shipping with no minimum order as part of a promotion. (Note: This number excludes those that offer free shipping year-round.)
  • Not many sales were “holiday-themed.” Last year, we saw many retail home pages turn festive (e.g., with red/green/blue design, snowflakes, etc.) for the early holiday sales. This year, most retailers stuck to general sales messaging, with a few exceptions. Bloomingdale’s called its 25% sitewide discount the “Cyber Sale,” the Macy’s home page promoted a “Holiday Early Access” sale, and Walmart had a “Holiday Kickoff” sales event. Sephora highlighted its holiday gift sets on its home page, while LEGO promoted its sales of holiday gifts.
  • Exclusive, member-only deals were more common. Similar to what we saw in July during Prime Day, retailers and brands drew attention to their loyalty programs via exclusive sales that required the customer to be — or sign up to become — a loyalty member. Ace Hardware, Barnes & Noble, LEGO, and DICK’S Sporting Goods all had exclusive discounts or bonus-point promotions for their loyalty members (e.g., double points on purchases). J.Crew offered 30% off the entire purchase and increased the discount to 40% off for loyalty members.

Now that numerous retailers have officially kicked off their holiday sale season, stay tuned for more holiday insights as part of our holiday prep blog series. And please get in touch if you have any questions!