The Walmart vs. Amazon fight for retail domination just escalated.
Not one to let Amazon steal the sales spotlight, Walmart will launch a rival sale Wednesday to Amazon’s recently announced Prime Day, including more than 2,000 online exclusive “rollbacks,” Walmart’s word for discounts.
The lower prices on items in categories including electronics, home, baby and toys will last 90 days, the typical time period for rollbacks, which Walmart usually has hundreds of at any given time throughout the year. Starting Monday, Walmart is also reducing the minimum order for free shipping from $50 to $35 for at least 30 days.
Walmart called out Amazon for making its lower prices on Prime Day available only to Prime members, who pay $99 a year to be part of the service that offers free two-day shipping and access to video streaming and music. In a blog post Monday, Walmart said that it is “standing up for our customers and everyone else who sees no rhyme or reason for paying a premium to save.”
“We just don’t believe you should pay a fee to get a better price,” said Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala.
In addition to the rollbacks and lower free shipping minimum, Walmart also promises “some special atomic deals,” with more details to come later.
Last week, Amazon announced that Prime Day — scheduled for July 15 and billed as a blowout sale bigger than Black Friday — would be held in honor of the e-commerce company’s 20th anniversary. It will include thousands of deals, with new ones as often as every 10 minutes, said Julie Law, an Amazon spokeswoman.
Walmart has been going up against Amazon on multiple fronts recently as the retailers compete for customers and sales. In May, Walmart said it would start testing a Prime-like service this summer, offering unlimited, free three-day shipping to customers for $50 a year.
While Walmart has been America’s dominant retailer for decades, crushing other chains like Kmart and threatening local grocery businesses as it expanded its fresh and frozen food offering, it’s been playing catch-up with Amazon when it comes to the Web.
“Amazon has kind of turned the tables on Walmart,” said Brian Yarbrough, consumer research analyst with Edward Jones. “They’re the biggest in the world and the best. Walmart’s problem is they’re struggling to grow traffic in their stores. They’re trying to gain new customers and show that they can be a force online.”
Walmart saw foot traffic in U.S. stores fall for about a year before trending back up during the most recent holiday shopping season. As of the first quarter, foot traffic was up 1% in U.S. stores.
Other retailers are also trying to drive customer traffic with Black Friday-inspired sales planned for the summer, a trend that’s been going on for several years. Target’s “Black Friday in July” runs through Monday and included more deals over more days than ever, according to Target spokeswoman Amy Joiner. Target has been doing a summer Black Friday sale since 2010.
Best Buy has a Black Friday sale planned for July 24-25, the third year it has co-opted the holiday season shopping moniker in warmer months.
While the idea of turning Black Friday into a year-round sale may not be new, those words still push people to shop on days they otherwise wouldn’t, said Kathy Allen, a spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation.
“If you go to Target right now, are you going to buy a Christmas gift?,” she said. “Probably not. (But the words) resonate as deep discounts and a day to get great deals on an assortment of products.”
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