What happens when you throw a party and nobody comes? Certainly, it can be a disappointing and disheartening experience — yet still it presents an opportunity to learn, grow and find new ways to connect. Although that is not exactly what happened with Walmart+ Week, data suggests that twice as many Amazon Prime members knew about and made purchases during the Prime Day sales event as Walmart+ shoppers did during Walmart+ Week. Even though both events took place on overlapping days in mid-July 2023, survey data reveals that many consumers were not aware of Walmart+ Week at all.
Consumers are still saddled with inflation and rising prices, and many flocked to these summer sale extravaganzas looking for bargains. In fact, consumer participation in at least one of the events increased from 38% last year to 46% in 2023. PYMNTS’ data finds that participation in Prime Day grew to a larger extent than Walmart+ Week, even as Walmart opened Walmart+ Week to the general public this year. While 40% of consumers made purchases on Amazon Prime Day, just 20% did so during Walmart+ Week.
Even so, Walmart+ Week shoppers spent almost twice as much money as Amazon Prime subscribers, largely owing to the grocery purchases they made. More than half bought groceries during the Walmart+ Week event — two times more than Amazon Prime shoppers who did the same.
In short, Amazon Prime members came for the deals, Walmart+ shoppers came for the groceries.
For “Summer Deal Days 2023: How Amazon Still Dominates,” PYMNTS surveyed 5,509 Amazon Prime members and Walmart customers on July 14 to gauge how the two events performed among their respective bases and take a closer look at purchasing patterns across demographics and product segments. PYMNTS has been tracking these retail giants’ sales event face-offs since 2021, providing us with valuable insight and perspective into the most recent trends.
This is what we learned.
Consumer participation in at least one of these events increased from 38% last year to 46% in 2023. While 40% of consumers made purchases on Amazon Prime Day, 20% did so during Walmart+ Week. This represents an increase from 2022, when 36% of consumers made purchases on Amazon Prime Day and 11% did so during Walmart+ Weekend. While Walmart’s participation increased, opening Walmart+ Week to all consumers did not close the gap with Amazon Prime.
Amazon even beat Walmart among the latter’s core customer base, as more low-income consumers participated in Amazon’s event than in Walmart’s. While 26% of consumers earning less than $50,000 annually took part in Amazon Prime Day, just 16% participated in Walmart+ Week.
Millennials and high-income consumers were the most drawn to both events. Sixty percent of bridge millennials and 57% of consumers earning more than $100,000 annually made a purchase as part of at least one of the events. Among high-income consumers, Amazon also maintained its lead, with more than twice the share of consumers earning more than $100,000 annually participating in Amazon Prime Day as in Walmart+ Week. Fifty-two percent of high-income consumers made a purchase during Amazon Prime Day, while just 25% did so during Walmart+ Week.
Amazon grew participation in its event to a larger extent than Walmart was able to, despite Walmart opening Walmart+ Week to the general public. Fifty-nine percent of Amazon Prime subscribers took part in the sale event, up from 56% last year. Although the same 53% of Walmart+ subscribers made purchases during Walmart+ Week this year as last year, just 6% of all consumers who are nonsubscribers participated in its event.
Amazon Prime’s subscriber base has remained stable since the start of the year, with 65% of consumers holding an Amazon Prime account. While 45% of consumers have Amazon Prime exclusively, only 3% have Walmart+ exclusively, and 20% of consumers have both subscriptions.
Moreover, Amazon Prime is significantly more popular among all consumers, yet Generation X and more affluent consumers have Amazon Prime subscriptions at higher rates than other demographic groups. Free trials are where Walmart+ leads: 7% of Walmart+ subscribers are using a free trial, compared to 3% of Amazon Prime subscribers. While the trials do improve customer engagement, the drawback to free trials is right there in the name: Subscription revenue is sacrificed to get these consumers on board.
Subscribers shopped at Walmart more frequently this year than in 2022, while Amazon’s share of frequent shoppers remained stable. This year, 42% of consumers said they shop at least once a week at Walmart, representing a 9 percentage point increase from 2022. For Amazon, 29% of consumers said they shop at least once a week — a barely noticeable drop of 1 percentage point from last year.
Even at half the share of Amazon Prime Day participation, Walmart+ Week shoppers spent almost twice as much money. On average, Amazon Prime subscribers reported spending $126 during the event, while Walmart shoppers said they spent, on average, $200 during Walmart+ Week. These summer sales events resulted in $12.7 billion in total consumer spending for Amazon Prime Day and an estimated $10.5 billion for Walmart+ Week.
Walmart+ Week spend remained heavily concentrated in groceries, with the share increasing to 52% this year from 45% in 2022. As a result, total consumer spending during Walmart+ Week doubled from the $5.6 billion spent during last year’s Walmart+ Weekend.
Only 21% of Amazon Prime subscribers purchased groceries. Yet, Amazon Prime Day shoppers increased their purchases of health and beauty products and apparel compared to 2022. On Amazon, clothing and accessories increased the most, rising from 38% in 2022 to 42% in 2023.
Seven in 10 consumers participated in the Amazon and Walmart sales events to get fast delivery, free shipping and — most of all — better deals. We found that 62% of Amazon Prime subscribers and 55% of Walmart customers say inflation impacted their decision to participate.
As in last year’s events, far more consumers thought Amazon Prime Day had better deals than Walmart+ Week: Only 24% of consumers said Walmart+ Week had better deals, while nearly twice that share said Amazon Prime Day offered better deals. The belief that Amazon provides better deals than Walmart holds true across all demographic groups but is especially strong among the youngest consumers. In 2023, 51% of Gen Z consumers said Amazon had better deals. Middle income consumers were slightly less satisfied with Amazon’s deals in 2023 than in 2022.
What did bargain hunters ultimately buy during the Amazon Prime and Walmart sales events? Beyond groceries — where Walmart clearly dominated — Amazon had a slight advantage in electronics over Walmart (29% versus 26%, respectively) and on books, music, toys and hobby items (25% for Amazon compared to 24% for Walmart). Meanwhile, Walmart’s appliances sales were higher Amazon’s (26% versus 19%, respectively), and the same was seen for sporting goods (23% for Walmart compared to 17% for Amazon).
Despite efforts to increase participation, only 6% of non-subscribers among all consumers shopped during Walmart+ Week. Walmart’s biggest problem was that most consumers were not aware of its sales event. Even scheduling the event to overlap with Amazon Prime Day did not seemingly work to Walmart’s advantage.
Among consumer respondents who did not participate in Walmart+ Week, the biggest reason for their avoidance was that they did not know the event was happening. Our research finds that 43% of consumers did not participate in the event for that reason, indicating that Walmart may need to do a better job getting the word out. The next most common reason for not participating in Walmart+ Week was that consumers did not find products they liked, with just 14% of consumers holding this view. A similar share did not participate in Amazon Prime Day because they did not find products they liked.
Top retailers Walmart and Amazon continue to compete head-to-head in an ever-changing retail marketplace, a battle made evident via their annual summer sales events. Though traditionally both events are exclusive to Amazon Prime or Walmart+ subscribers, Walmart opened up its event to all consumers — a move that did not impact Walmart+ Week as few nonsubscribers participated and subscriber participation was stagnant. In contrast, more Amazon Prime subscribers engaged this year, making a participating share that was twice that of Walmart+ Week participants.
All news is not awful for Walmart, as Walmart+ Week shoppers spent almost twice as much as Amazon Prime members, if mostly on groceries — an area where Walmart has long dominated. Yet ultimately, efforts to grow Walmart+ Week beyond Walmart+ members were not as successful as they could have been simply because non-subscribers lacked awareness they could participate. After this round of the battle, Amazon still holds a huge lead.