How Deep Is Our Love for Prime Day?

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It and similar summer buying days from big-box stores have carved out a lasting spot in the shopping calendar alongside Black Friday. Still, analysts say the average order size on Prime Day has decreased from a few years ago and sales growth has come down. With Americans anxious about inflation, it may not be an ideal time to persuade people to buy stuff for no good reason.

It’s not easy to spot a shopping flash in the pan until it’s over. But there are a couple of clues.

The first is if a company spends gobs of money on promotions or advertising to get our attention. Wish, for a time, was the top advertiser on Facebook and Instagram. Groupon’s marketing budget was so high that the company argued with regulators over an accounting number that made the company’s spending look less ugly.

Unsurprisingly, a company that spends a lot of money to get our attention will have it, at least for a while. But when our interest fades along with the pitches, it’s a sign this was just a fad.

Second, it’s alluring to believe that a smart idea in one area of shopping can apply to all others.

It was a clever innovation to sell directly to shoppers products that are annoying to buy the conventional way, such as razors, mattresses and eyeglasses. But when companies started to sell cheese puffs and leggings this way, the store skipping had gone too far.

Some novelties have stuck, or at least left a lasting mark. Kodali cited Etsy, the website for handcrafted goods, as a relatively new and enduring shopping habit, along with the online furniture seller Wayfair. Even if Wish will never be an e-commerce superstar as its backers once imagined, it, Amazon and Shein, the trendy clothing app of the past couple of years, have proven the appeal of selling goods directly from Chinese factories.

I won’t try to predict what the next online shopping fad might be — but there will one. People are more willing to take a chance on buying something from a company we’ve never heard of. The flip side is that with so much of everything online, hardly anything that screams NEW! NOVEL! feels compelling for very long.

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