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Amazon Prime Day Means the Whole Internet Is on Sale

For “Black Friday in July,” brands like American Apparel, Forever 21, and Aerie are offering sizable discounts of their own.

A worker holds a box with an Amazon Prime Day logo.
A package prepares to ship from an Amazon fulfillment center.
Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

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Considering how frequently brands offer markdowns on their products — more often than is wise, some argue — it could just be a coincidence that many, many retailers are advertising big sales in this, the third week of July. Or it could be the Amazon Prime Day halo effect.

As Amazon’s fake shopping holiday has turned into a major shopping event, other retailers have seized the moment and started offering sales of their own. Indeed, Prime Day is a big deal partly because it revs up the whole shopping ecosystem, not just Amazon.

On the first day of Prime Day 2018 — technically a two-day affair running July 16 and 17 — a slew of brands are touting summer sales of their own. Consider Forever 21, which is running a blaring purple banner across the homepage of its website: up to 80 percent off, with free shipping on (read the fine print) July 16 and 17. “Black Friday in July!”

Aerie has offered 25 percent off its collection: “2 days only online! Now through 7.17.” (Its sister brand American Eagle ran a similar promotion.) American Apparel launched a “summer sale” on July 16, selling its basics at up to 60 percent off through July 22. Despite its recent struggles to convince shoppers to buy its clothing at full price, J.Crew kicked off a “Five Days of Summer” sales event on the first day of Prime Day too.

There are some sales that extend well beyond the confines of Prime Day but that happen to overlap, like Nordstrom’s anniversary sale, which kicked off for the department store’s card members on July 12 and officially takes place from July 20 through August 5. Barneys’ designer sale, which has been offering discounts for months, ratcheted up to 80 percent off in the days before Prime Day.

Amazon may be the biggest beneficiary of Prime Day, but the considerable excitement and media coverage it stirs up is an opportunity for brands to lure in shoppers — and it’s a chance to do so without looking like they’re just trying to offload unwanted product. It’s not a bummer or an admission of defeat. It’s fun; it’s special. It’s a holiday.

The Prime Day halo effect is further evidence of what we already know to be true: that Amazon has changed, and continues to alter, how the rest of the retail world does business (online, and with free shipping). The funny thing is, Prime Day is a huge driver of Prime subscriptions for Amazon, which provide shopping and video perks to members. By offering their own discounts and stirring the shopping fervor over this “Black Friday in July,” brands are supporting an institution that ultimately pulls shoppers away from their own sites and stores — not just on a Monday and Tuesday in mid-July, but every day throughout the year.