How Amazon Manufactured its own Cyber Monday in the Middle of the Summer

Be honest: when’s the last time you placed an order through Amazon? Probably sooner than you’re comfortable admitting. But take comfort… you’re definitely not alone!

According to a NPR’s 2018 poll, Google is old news for online shoppers. Nowadays, about 44% of online shoppers start their search directly on Amazon — but how are shoppers tackling Amazon during the holiday season?

We took a look at aggregated anonymized spending patterns from the community of Charlie users (Charlie’s friends) to see how people’s Amazon shopping habits change over Cyber Monday in November and Prime Day in July, compared to normal, baseline Amazon spending levels. The results might surprise you!

Cyber Monday: Everyone’s Favorite Shopping Holiday

Yep, you guessed it: Amazon is way more popular on Cyber Monday than any other day. Specifically, 29% more of Charlie’s friends can be found shopping on Amazon on Cyber Monday as compared to a normal day.

But do people actually buy more items? Kind of! On a normal day, Charlie’s Amazon loving friends n make 1.83 purchases. On Cyber Monday that number bumps up a tad to 2.08 purchases, for a 14% increase in the number of purchases made on Cyber Monday.

On average, Charlie’s friends spend $28.54 per Amazon purchase — but on Cyber Monday, they pack their carts slightly fuller and spend an average of $31.78, for an 11% increase in the size of each order.

Let’s put everything together. On Cyber Monday, more of Charlie’s friends shop on Amazon, and they make more purchases of larger amounts. Altogether, this means a 64% increase in total spending at Amazon by Charlie’s friends on Cyber Monday holidays. Whew!

Prime Day: Christmas in July — Almost Literally

Did the Cyber Monday data surprise you? Try this one on for size.

Every true Amazon nerd knows about Prime Day that occurs each July. If you missed Cyber Monday, it’s your second chance at great deals. But the surprising thing is, it’s almost nearly as big as Cyber Monday itself!

On Prime Day, you can expect to find 18% more of Charlie’s friends making online purchases. When hitting the checkout button, they make 20% more purchases, that are 7% larger than on a normal day. All in all, this means a 52% increase in spending on Prime Day.

Think about what this means. Amazon itself succeeded in creating an arbitrary shopping holiday in the middle of the summer that is almost on par with the epic kickoff of the online winter holiday shopping season!

For Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings expert, these numbers aren’t really all that surprising.

“There is a lot of marketing that has gone into promoting this event, and the more people who sign up to become Prime members, the easier it is for Amazon to attract shoppers on this holiday,” she says.

“Online shopping is continuously rising. And even though many stores are trying to attract people through their doors with in-store only offers as well as in person experiences such as heightened customer service, pictures with Santa Clause and holiday music, etc…, they ultimately want to capture a portion of each pie and still promote mobile and online-only offers.”

How to Keep Your Spending in Check

We know people generally spend big bucks over the Amazon shopping holidays. “I’ve found that Amazon deals often snowball into, ‘well, I guess all of my Christmas shopping is done. Oops,’” says Rachel Smith from the blog Budgets and Kale. “But really, is that such a bad thing?”

Not really. With the right budgeting and planning, it could make holiday shopping easier. But if you can’t resist shopping outside your budget in the face of shiny objects at reduced prices with a threatening countdown timer attached to them, it can be hard to say no.

Here are 4 tips from top money bloggers on keeping your spending in check when tempted by Amazon holidays.

Make a List and Stick With It

“If it’s not on your list, skip it”, recommends Jon Sharpe from the blog Be Net Worthy  “I decide ahead of time what items I might be interested in if they come on sale during Black Friday or Cyber Monday,” he says. “If it’s not on the list, I don’t look at it.”

Brittany, a financial coach from Ready Set Life, avoids impulse spending by making a wishlist with some wiggle room. “I always make a list of things I want (in the priority that I want them) and then scope the sales of those items only. If those things aren’t on sale, or it’s not a good deal, I won’t buy it,” she says. “This also helps with impulse spending,” she adds. “I’ve been prepared and thinking about things for days, or weeks in advance, so I know I actually want it and it’s not that I’m caught up with the ‘hype’ of it.”

Keep an Eye on the Price

For Stephanie Jones of Six Figures Under, it all boils down to making sure the deal actually is a deal and isn’t being artificially marked up and then price reduced. “I like to stick things I’m interested in my Amazon cart and just leave them there.  When I return to my cart, Amazon lets me know if the price went up or down. A few years ago on Prime Day, everything in my cart went UP in price!”

Woroch offers a few tips for this: the InvisibleHand browser extension automatically compares the price of any online item and lets you know if a cheaper deal can be found elsewhere. RankTracer is also an excellent tool for tracking the price history of Amazon items.  

Save up for Christmas and Set a Budget

Another solution is to set aside a pot of money to use just for Amazon shopping holidays, and then track how much you’re spending towards your goal. That’s the technique Smith uses, as well as Val Breit from the blog The Common Cents Club.

“I already have an idea in mind of how much I want to spend on each person for Christmas gifts. To avoid going overboard, I jot down how much I’ve spent on each person so when I reach my limit, I’m done”, says Breit.

Skip Shopping Holidays

If you really have a problem with impulse spending, one option is to simply pass on the holiday entirely. It may sound drastic, but it’ll also ensure that you don’t order enough things to block you from getting out of your front door.

This is the preferred approach for Mike from the blog Budget Kitty. “Last year I actually scheduled a bunch of meetings on Cyber Monday so I’d be really busy and unable to browse the site all day.”

Ashley Patrick from Budgets Made Easy agrees. “I do not look at the deals. I unsubscribe from tempting emails. I also canceled Prime and use my mom’s account when I need something quick. You aren’t missing out on a deal if you don’t need it in the first place.”

You’re in Control of Your Spending

Spending more money at Amazon over shopping holidays isn’t necessarily a bad thing — if you do it mindfully. If you stick to your budget and follow the tips in this article, you’ll be well on your way to happier holidays, regardless of how much you increase your spending at Amazon.

View the full Infographic here.