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As “Black Friday” becomes meaningless, how Amazon and China are opening wallets

As the mess of deals to incentivize American holiday shopping gets messier, take a moment to consider: maybe China has got it figured out.

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America’s mess of discounts

As Thanksgiving approaches, major retailers like Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Target begin launching their holiday shopping sales. Each company took a slightly different approach to generating excitement and motivating shoppers. On Sunday, Walmart and Target kicked off their holiday deals by offering season-long price rollbacks and free shipping-and-returns programs respectively. Best Buy got a head start in mid-October by commencing free shipping deals on all purchases during the holiday season.


Amazon goes for the digital deal

Amazon began offering shopping specials on Monday with the goal of increasing Amazon Prime membership and overall spending. The company incentivized shoppers to join Prime by making deals available to them thirty minutes before opening the same deals to other customers. Additionally, Amazon is offering twice as many “lightning deals” – deals that end when the promotion period expires or all promotional discounts are claimed– than they offered in their 2014 Black Friday sale.

Prime time for holiday shopping

Amazon believes that its Prime members spend more of their total shopping budget at Amazon because of benefits like free shipping and quick delivery. This Black Friday sale isn’t the only attempt that Amazon has made to increase membership. Amazon’s colossal Prime Day sale in July this year was also only available to those paying the $99 annual membership fee. The summer sale was extremely successful, generating more money than previous Black Friday sales.

China’s Single Day

While U.S. companies compete to make their sales stand out, Chinese companies collectively participate in the Singles Day digital sales event each year. According to AdMaster, 79% of China’s digital buyers in 2014 planned to participate in the festival. That number is expected to rise to 84% for Singles Day this year. Singles Day was the largest digital shopping day in the world last year, with many participants planning out their purchases weeks ahead of time.

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America’s Single Day?

It’s hard to keep up with U.S. retailers that are constantly altering sales and changing launch dates. As Americans grow tired of the constant push for earlier, more complicated holiday shopping events, they may begin looking for other options. Many might prefer one enormous shopping holiday like Singles Day, where people can shop safely from their home and plan purchases ahead of time.


Written By

Hannah is currently a writer and student in Colorado Springs, pursuing her master's degree in Creative Writing at the University of Denver. Before becoming a Staff Writer for the American Genius, Hannah wrote website content and grant applications for a law office in central Minnesota.

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