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Amazon to kick off holidays with Prime Day-like shopping event in October

Amazon said Monday that next month it will hold a second Prime Day-like shopping event, making it the latest major retailer to offer holiday deals earlier this year to entice cautious consumers struggling with tighter budgets.

During the October 11-12 event, Amazon Prime members will get early access to discounted items. The "Prime Early Access Sale" follows Amazon's annual Prime Day in July.

The Seattle-based e-commerce giant has long used these kinds of sales events to lure people into its Prime membership, which offers faster shipping and better deals for $139 a year. But October's event will be the first time it has holds a major sales drive twice in a year.

Amazon's retail business had slowed down in recent months. The addition of the October shopping bonanza signals a recognition that the company needs to provide more deals to inflation-hit consumers in what's expected to be a challenging holiday shopping season for retailers.

Inflation remains high in August despite ongoing drop from June 05:14

Last week, Walmart and Target announced they would begin offering deals and price-matching offers earlier this year to keep up with Americans pressed by soaring inflation. 

Target said it would begin offering holiday deals in early October and plans to hire up to 100,000 seasonal employees in stores and distribution centers this holiday season, in line with a year ago. Meanwhile, Walmart is expanding its window for gift returns to between October 1 and January 31, compared with last year's return window of November 1 to January 24.

"Holiday kickoff"

"What Amazon wants to do is be part of that early crowd and get a bite of the cherry," said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. "And the best way to do that is, rather than having little deals here and there, is to have a big day that's almost like a holiday kickoff."

This year marks the second year in a row consumers are expected to shop earlier for holiday deals. Last year, Americans started shopping earlier to avoid shipment delays caused by supply-chain snafus. This year, analysts expect many budget-conscious consumers to do the same, aiming to spread out their spending and snag gifts before prices rise later on.

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Jamil Ghani, vice president of Amazon Prime, said the company will offer deals on digital items and products that are "particularly relevant for the holiday season," as opposed to its Prime Day event in July, which, for example, focused on back-to-school items. He declined to say whether a fall discount event will be a permanent fixture for Amazon going forward.

"We're just focused on having a great event this year," Ghani said. "I can't say what's going to happen in the future; we aren't really thinking about it."

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