• Amazon is postponing its annual Prime Day shopping event to October, the third delay this year.
  • In one email sent to third-party sellers, Amazon gave a “placeholder” date in the week of October 5, and in another email said this date change would be the “final” update.
  • The change shows the uncertainty Amazon is facing amid COVID-19 across its operations network.
  • Amazon is seeing another round of demand increases as COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the US, spurring concerns of a second wave of supply chain slowdowns, according to a person familiar with the matter.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Amazon has pushed back its annual Prime Day shopping event again, to early October, amid growing concerns of a potential second wave of coronavirus-driven demand spike across its supply chain network, according to emails sent to third-party sellers and people familiar with the matter.

In an email sent to sellers on Wednesday, Amazon said it’s now expecting Prime Day to take place in early October. The email said “the exact Prime Day dates have not been announced,” but told sellers to use the week of Oct. 5 as a “placeholder” date for scheduling Prime Day promotions.

“Every year, Prime Day is a huge hit with customers, who enjoy some of the best deals of the year,” said the email, obtained by Business Insider. “A definitive date will be announced as we get closer to the event.”

In another email, Amazon’s representative told sellers that it moved Prime Day to the “first half of October.” 

“I understand this is a change to the previously communicated timing, however, you can consider this date update final,” it said.

This is the third time Amazon has delayed Prime Day this year, showing the uncertainty COVID-19 has brought to its logistics operations. Prime Day is a shopping holiday Amazon created in 2015, and is often touted as one of the biggest sales events for the company. Amazon and the sellers on its marketplace give major discounts throughout the event, which typically runs for a few days, resulting in huge traffic and order increases.

But as COVID-19 has caused unexpected disruptions to its logistics network, Amazon was forced to reschedule the event, which normally takes place in mid-July. In early April, Reuters reported Amazon pushed back Prime Day to August, and in May, the Wall Street Journal said it was postponed again to September.

In an email to Business Insider, Amazon’s spokesperson said, “We have not made any announcements regarding Prime Day.”

One of the emails included a list of requirements and deadlines for submitting Prime Day promotions. The last day to get Prime Day exclusive discount deals approved is Sepy. 25. All inventory for Prime Day has to be in transit by Aug. 20, and the cutoff date for products using Amazon’s fulfillment service is September 11, the email said.

Order demand growing again

The October launch date gives both Amazon and the sellers on its marketplace enough time to plan for the event, according to Jonathan Goldman, president of Quantum Networks, a company that represents more than 100 brands on Amazon. For example, Amazon can catch up to the coronavirus-related demand and staff up its warehouses ahead of time, while sellers can make sure they are well-stocked for the event, he said.

Goldman said it’s unlikely Amazon would push off Prime Day any longer, as running it in November would overlap with the traditional holiday season. Having Prime Day in October, in fact, could help Amazon create more buzz and win a larger share of the holiday quarter spending, he said.

“This gives Amazon the ability to have Black Friday in October and go straight into November and December with an even greater customer base and loyalty,” Goldman said.

The big question is whether Amazon’s supply chain will return to normal levels by then. Amazon lifted certain warehouse restrictions in May and brought back a number of promotions, signaling improvement in its supply chain that had been stifled for nearly two months due to COVID-19. 

But Amazon may be growing cautious of seeing potentially another round of supply chain disruptions due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in the US. In fact, one person familiar with the matter told Business Insider that order demand on Amazon has started to pick up in recent weeks as more states in the US are putting back stay-at-home restrictions. 

One seller, who received the email about Prime Day’s delay but wanted to remain anonymous because he’s not authorized to talk about it, said the change helps Amazon hone its internal operations and build out its employee testing facilities. But he said he wouldn’t he surprised to see Amazon cancel this year’s Prime Day if COVID-19 conditions get worse.

“The delay keeps Prime Day 2020 alive as an idea and gives Amazon more time to see how COVID is changing the world and adapt,” the seller said.

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