Amazon confirms Prime Day will run June 21-22, an earlier than usual start

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Amazon confirmed its annual sales event known as Prime Day will be held on Monday, June 21 and Tuesday, June 22. Bloomberg had previously reported these same dates, citing leaked records. The once-a-year mega sale had typically been held in July, when the shopping season goes through its usual lull. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s Prime Day was delayed until October in most markets, including the U.S.

Despite the changes, Amazon said small and midsize businesses generated mo0re than $3.5 billion during the Prime Day event, Amazon said, up 60% from the year prior. However, it didn’t disclose its total Prime Day figures.

This year, Amazon will kick off Prime Day early with a new promotion aimed at supporting small businesses. Starting June 7 and running up until Prime day’s start, when Prime members spend $10 on items sold by a participating small business, they’ll receive a $10 credit they can later spend during the Prime Day event.

This deal will run in select markets, including the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan, and is the big promotion for small businesses in Amazon’s history, the company noted. More than 300,000 selling partners are participating.

Prime Day was originally conceived as a way to push more Amazon shoppers to convert to paying Amazon Prime subscribers by luring them with deep discounts across categories — including Amazon’s own consumer hardware devices, like Echo smart speakers or Fire TV devices, which have been regular best sellers.

This will again be the case, as Amazon promises savings and discounts across home, electronics, beauty, fashion and Amazon devices. And it will again extend sales to other areas of Amazon’s business, like Prime Video, Amazon Music, Prime Gaming and others.

One of those deals is live now, as Prime members are offered a four-month free trial for its on-demand music streaming service, Amazon Music Unlimited, which offers up to 70 million songs. The company recently added lossless streaming support as a free upgrade, following Apple’s move to do the same for its own Music subscribers.

While Prime Day has been running since 2015, Amazon has more recently begun using the event to put a stronger spotlight on how it helps small businesses in light of increased regulatory scrutiny and antitrust investigations over its business practices.

In addition to Congressional hearings which saw Amazon founder and (soon to be former) CEO Jeff Bezos hauled in to testify, DC’s Attorney General Karl Racine last month filed an antitrust suit against Amazon, accusing the retailer of stifling competition by exerting control over third-party sellers. The suit alleges Amazon fixed prices on its retail platform by prohibiting sellers from selling products for less elsewhere, creating an artificially high price floor across the online retail market.

The company is also facing antitrust investigations abroad, including in the E.U. The retailer has been accused of harming small businesses by leveraging nonpublic data from its third-party sellers who use its marketplace in order to copy the best-selling products and undercut its selling partners.

This reality stands in sharp contrast as to how Amazon presented itself during an upbeat press briefing, where it had leveraged actress Kristen Bell’s (“The Good Place”) likeability factor to promote how well small businesses were doing on Amazon. During the event, she “interviewed” favorite sellers, like dog food seller Pawstruck and artisanal self-care product maker Live by Being, who had nothing but great things to say about working with Amazon.

Bell, along with Karamo Brown and Mindy Kaling, will also be highlighting some of their favorite sellers on Amazon’s video shopping service, Amazon Live.

Amazon also gave a broader update on its small business sellers and related efforts. The retailer noted that, last year, it delivered more than 250 new tools and services to help its selling partners reach 300 million customers globally.

“It’s pretty incredible to think in the past year in the U.S. alone, our small and medium-sized selling partners sold more than 3.7 billion products as more than 7,200 products, every minute,” said Keri Cusick, head of Small Business Empowerment at Amazon, in a press briefing. “Overall, they average $200,000 in sales, up from about $150,000, and more than 27,000 American sellers had over half a million dollars in sales,” she added.

Amazon didn’t offer specifics about its upcoming Prime Day deals, but said that it will host hundreds of thousands of deals leading up to Prime Day from companies including Le Creuset, Tommy Hilfiger, Lego, Mattel and Black & Decker.

Alexa device owners can also shop early, starting on Friday June 18, by asking “Alexa, what are my deals?”

Prime Day will be available on Amazon.com or regional websites, on Amazon.com/espanol for Spanish-language speakers and in Amazon’s physical retail stores.

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