Amazon's Prime Day may be coming in September

Planning for the sale could point to Amazon moving closer to regular operations again.

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With Prime Day coming later in the calendar, it may end up cannibalizing sales from the holiday season. 
Angela Lang/CNET

Amazon this week reportedly picked a month for its annual Prime Day sale, moving it to September.

The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reported on the expected timing, citing people familiar with the plans. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment for this story.

Prime Day is typically held in July, but a later date was already expected. Reuters last month said the sale would be delayed at least until August due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Amazon has been struggling for months to respond to a rush of customer orders during the public health crisis and had to institute many new safety protocols and shipping restrictions to be able to continue delivering food and basic needs. The world's largest online store is only now starting to bring itself back to some semblance of regular operations and faster shipping times. 

Preparation for Prime Day and the holiday season usually takes months of planning, so that work has likely taken a backseat to more immediate needs.

The coming of Prime Day would likely be a huge benefit not just for Amazon but for retailers overall, many of whom have been under serious pressure during the pandemic, with many forced to close stores and furlough workers. In recent years, Prime Day has emerged as a valuable sales holiday for the entire sector, with hundreds of competing stores running parallel sales as customers comb the internet for new deals.

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Still, with Prime Day coming later in the calendar, it may end up cannibalizing sales from the holiday season, giving retailers a positive boost in the fall but weaker revenue in the winter.

Along with renewed planning for Prime Day, Amazon has made several other efforts to normalize operations. It said this month its delivery times are starting to pick up again, after it's seen its vaunted one- and two-day shipments trickle to a week or sometimes even a month. 

Amazon also has removed quantity restrictions on non-essential items being shipped into its warehouses. The company previously put those limits in place because it was falling behind in processing new warehouse deliveries and orders. Bringing in these non-essential products will be critical to Amazon's preparation for Prime Day, since it will want to sell loads of robot vacuums, clothing and small appliances.

Not all these changes back to normal have been welcome. Amazon has faced criticism from its workers and activist organizations for deciding to end its $2-per-hour hazard pay for hourly workers at the end of this month and for ending unlimited unpaid time off for workers last month.

Amazon spokeswoman Deborah Bass said the company has paid its workers and partners nearly $800 million in extra pay since the pandemic started. 

"With demand stabilized, next month we'll return to our industry-leading starting wage of $15 an hour," she said. "We're proud that our minimum wage is more than what most others offer even after their temporary increases in recent months, and we hope they'll do the right thing for the long term and bring their minimum pay closer to ours."