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Amazon's Prime Day to return with big focus on TVs, toys

The shopping event is back on July 12, with a handful of tweaks from last year to allay complaints.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Time to get ready for Jeff Bezos' favorite made-up holiday. No, not Festivus -- Prime Day.

Amazon on Wednesday said Prime Day, a shopping event it introduced last year, is coming back on July 12, starting midnight Pacific Time for US shoppers. As the name suggests, all Prime Day deals are available only to Prime members, who pay $99 a year for unlimited two-day shipping and other perks. (But folks using a 30-day free Prime trial can join in, too.)

The first Prime Day, held to celebrate the online retailer's 20th anniversary, proved a big success for the company, with new members pouring in and sales topping any prior Black Friday. However, Amazon faced a backlash on social media, with some complaining about a lack of in-demand deals and items selling out too quickly, with the #PrimeDayFail hashtag gaining popularity.

Prime Day is back for another run.

Amazon

Seeming to learn from last year's issues, the company said Wednesday it "dramatically increased" inventory behind many deals and made it easier to search for sales by sorting through categories.

Overall, there will be more than 100,000 deals worldwide, making it the biggest Amazon sale yet. (The company didn't release a similar statistic last year.) Deals will be available for new and existing Prime members in the US, UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, Belgium and Austria.

The biggest sales day of the year for Amazon continues to be Cyber Monday, but Amazon plans to make Prime Day a bigger draw this year by focusing especially on TV and toy deals. The company said it plans to offer nearly twice the inventory of TVs in the US than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Additionally, there will be "countdown deals" in the run-up to Prime Day, starting next Tuesday, including a 32-inch TV bundle with a Fire TV Stick for $120.

While the company was knocked last year for offering some less-than-flashy deals like a Rubbermaid container set, spokeswoman Julie Law said that Prime Day wasn't intended as a gifting holiday. Instead, it's meant to show off the breadth of Amazon's selection to its members.

"A deal may be weird to someone but wonderful to someone else, and we embrace that," Law said. "We'll have deals across every category on Prime Day this year."

She added that Amazon expects the second Prime Day to be "bigger than last year."

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Prime has become a critical part of Amazon growth, with the retailer making more of its deals and services exclusive to Prime, such as its Prime Now rapid-deliveries and Prime Video streaming service. That's because Prime customers, estimated at roughly 60 million in the US by Piper Jaffray, tend to spend about twice as much with the retailer than non-Prime buyers.

With another Prime Day coming up, Amazon gets another chance to sell its customers even more stuff.