Over the next couple of weeks, every major tech site will become inundated with articles on Prime Day deals. In my freelancer days, I'd have to sign on at midnight and update dozens of articles with whatever new deals had come in. Thankfully, Android Central takes a slightly more focused approach on a few deal categories (and lets me sleep 8 hours) instead of making me write the best 42 instant pot deals at 3 a.m. But it's still a hectic time for writers.
So you can imagine the reaction my coworkers and I had to CNBC (opens in new tab)'s report that Amazon is already preparing for a second Prime Day event in October called "Prime Fall Deal Event," in addition to whatever deals show up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Get ready for nonstop deals (and articles on said deals) right up until the holiday season!
I wanted to be upfront that I'm not exactly objective on this topic. But even when I compartmentalize my personal feelings about deal-hunting and focus on the objective facts, it's still easy to argue that holding two Prime Days seems like a terrible idea — for Amazon's workers, delivery drivers, businesses, and consumers.
It's not surprising that Amazon would decide to do this. Back in 2020, Amazon delayed Prime Day from July to October due to fresh pandemic fears, and it still made billions from people stuck indoors with money to spend. The deals event returned to summer last year, but you can be sure that even then, Amazon's executives were excitedly quoting the "Why not both?" meme at one another.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has hurt Amazon's profits this year, with cash flow dropping by a huge margin and many warehouses sitting empty due to low consumer demand.
It has tried to counter this by raising its membership price, putting out more high-budget Prime Video projects, and focusing on growing AWS profits. But doubling Prime Day profits with an influx of orders would, in theory, solve all their problems.
Analysts have already started to poke holes in this idea, though. The Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab) reports that Prime Day fatigue is setting in, with consumers making smaller orders than in the past and Amazon focusing on its own discounted Echo devices at the expense of other companies' tech.
And Business Insider (opens in new tab) reports that some businesses are hesitating to get involved in Prime Fall, which requires them to "make relatively large budgeting and inventory decisions" like how much stock to invest in Prime Day 2.0 at one price vs. the rest of its stock for Black Friday at another price. Businesses that choose the wrong deal price or don't get enough promotion from Amazon could face serious financial repercussions.
Then you have to look at what Amazon's warehouse workers and drivers have to look forward to with yet another massive deals period.
Amazon's warehouse tactics are well known, with a New York Times (opens in new tab) report outlining how Bezos considers hourly workers as an "inefficiency worth eliminating" by refusing to give them pay raises that would make them complacent until they're driven out of the company, and new workers with more energy sign up. Employees are surveilled, fired when injuries cause absences, or disproportionately punished if they're part of a minority group, the report claimed.
During Prime Day itself, as CNN (opens in new tab) reported, workers essentially have a week of "mandatory overtime" that's "overwhelming," with employees expected to avoid too much "time off task" where any slowdown of their work could trigger negative reports or being fired.
Once your Prime Day deals leave the warehouse, Amazon's drivers are put on such a relentless schedule that they end up having to pee in bottles, something Amazon initially denied was happening until The Intercept (opens in new tab) found internal documents proving Amazon execs knew about it.
Amazon's solution? Fire employees who pee in bottles — a warning sent to drivers and reported by Vice (opens in new tab). Drivers' 10-hour workdays with limited rest breaks haven't gone away, so they're apparently just supposed to hold it in.
Prime Day and Black Friday deliver tons of revenue for Amazon and third-party businesses and give customers quick access to products. But they also exacerbate the already-busy conditions for Amazon's employees and affiliates and adding a second Prime Day a month before Black Friday will only increase the burnout.
When it comes to buying from Amazon, most of us accept a kind of cognitive dissonance where we ignore whatever worker conditions led to a low-priced device arriving on our doorstep in one or two days. What I don't think most Amazon shoppers will accept is being forced to check the site for HUGE Prime Day events™ that keep happening over and over throughout the year.
All deal events are made up; there's no correlation between honoring soldiers on Memorial Day and you saving 30% off a Fitbit. But Prime Day is especially fabricated, an event that only holds meaning because people like to shop on Amazon and don't want to miss out on the cheapest-price-of-the-year deals.
If there are multiple Prime Days, with one happening right before Black Friday, that special feeling goes away. People will hesitate to buy anything because they know the next deal event will arrive soon, possibly with that same product at a lower price. Prime Day 2020 worked because people were afraid Black Friday orders wouldn't arrive in time for Christmas due to the pandemic, but that's no longer the case today.
More importantly, a second Prime Day makes you feel less like you're stealing money with great deals and more that Amazon and businesses are trying to squeeze every last cent out of you with "savings" on tech you don't really need.
Despite all the baggage, I'm genuinely looking forward to this month's Prime Day. I'm hoping for some good deals on a computer monitor, running hydration packs and shoes, and (because I'm a VR nerd) some Quest 2 accessories. But Prime Fall, with Black Friday on the horizon? I'm just not convinced it'll work out for Amazon the way it hopes.
Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.
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