Amazon Kicks Off Peak Holiday Season Two Months Early

Amazon has announced a raft of Black Friday-like deals designed to jumpstart the holiday season quite a bit ahead of time and draft ahead of the rest of the retail pack, capturing early consumer interest and hopefully easing some of the massive network strain later in the season.

The ecommerce giant is looking to steal some thunder from main competitor Target, which last week announced its own early deal days from Oct. 10-12.

Amazon also launched a new program that allows you to buy a gift and have it sent to someone, even if you don’t have their address, an offering some see as rife for abuse and stalking.

On Monday, Amazon unveiled gift guides across toys, home, fashion, beauty, electronics and sports/outdoors, as well as “stocking stuffer picks” and a list of top sellers. It also rolled out a “holiday prep shop” with curated lists across categories.

“You don’t have to wait to save—starting today, find incredible deals and deep discounts across every category, including fashion, home, beauty, toys, electronics, Amazon Devices, and many more,” the company said in a release.

In another new feature, Prime members in the U.S. can use the Amazon app to send a gift by sharing the recipient’s email or mobile number, and selecting “add gift receipt.” The recipient can accept the gift or exchange it for an Amazon gift card, without the sender’s knowledge. They also need to have an Amazon account to accept the gift.

“What’s to stop a troll/harasser/stalker from sending multiple gifts to a recipient just to spam them with notifications, when the giver knows the recipient won’t accept?” wondered The Verge. “Technically nothing, although the recipient could notify Amazon customer service, which will decide what action to take.”

Overall, experts are predicting a sales boost of about 7% for the upcoming holidays, up 11% from the pre-pandemic season of 2019, factoring in pent-up demand and a desire to splurge. But ongoing supply chain woes and inventory shortages, carrier capacity issues and a nagging labor shortage could make for a difficult season on the back end.

Even with hiring so difficult due to disincentives and pandemic concerns, retailers, carriers and third-party logistics providers, among others, are seeking to bring on board in aggregate millions of seasonal workers to handle the crunch. Hitting those hiring goals will be an uphill slog in this environment.