In October of 1921, a group of candy companies in Cleveland announced, in self-exalted rhetoric, a new holiday. Sweetest Day was created to counter “the rush and whirl of present day life” so we could recognize our “tender feelings,” according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A year later, the effort returned on Oct. 8 with its founders extolling the day’s “specific opportunity to recall the dearer and more subtle elements in our lives that will make everybody just a bit happier.”
Amazon doesn’t need to make similar virtuous claims in hopes of creating what may become a yearly observance.
For 30 hours in the week ahead, Amazon will bombard its cyber spenders with shopping deals as often as every five minutes. The third annual “Prime Day” on Tuesday stretches into 13 countries with Chinese, Indian and Mexican Prime customers joining the e-retailing frenzy for the first time.
This is not the scale of Black Friday because Prime Day is only about Amazon and only about driving Prime subscriptions and revenue. But it’s big and getting bigger. When Amazon invented the day two years ago to celebrate its 20th anniversary, more people signed up for its $99 per year Prime service than on any other day previously. Last year, Prime Day sales jumped 60 percent from the year earlier. And to goose sales of its growing lineup of hardware, customers will be eligible for other exclusive deals if they use an Amazon Fire, Amazon Echo or any of its Alexa-enabled devices to shop.
The company’s “growth at any cost” strategy has come under new scrutiny with its $14 billion buyout of Whole Food Markets pending.
But long-term shareholders have been rewarded for their confidence. Amazon shares are up 30 percent this year, more than 300 percent over the past five years. That’s performance far exceeding the S&P 500.
It’s an achievement that would make any early 20th century candy maker sweet with envy.
Financial journalist Tom Hudson hosts “The Sunshine Economy” on WLRN-FM in Miami. Follow him on Twitter @HudsonsView.