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Holiday shopping off to early start: West Plains facility moves millions of packages; area companies see boost

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 13, 2020

The Amazon fulfillment center on the West Plains, seen here in August 2020, expects to ship millions of packages this week, to a large degree because of the company’s two-day Prime Day event.  (Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
The Amazon fulfillment center on the West Plains, seen here in August 2020, expects to ship millions of packages this week, to a large degree because of the company’s two-day Prime Day event. (Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By From staff and wire reports Associated Press

From staff and wire reports

Halloween is still weeks away, but retailers are hoping you’ll start your holiday shopping now, and at least two Spokane-area companies have found that to be the case with Amazon’s rescheduled Prime Day.

The big push is coming from the e-commerce giant, which is holding its annual Prime Day sales event Tuesday and Wednesday, kick-starting the holiday shopping season. It’s the first time Prime Day has been in the fall, after the pandemic forced it to postpone from July.

It’s also the first time Amazon’s fulfillment center on the West Plains – which opened in June – will process Prime Day orders for customers nationwide.

“Employees at this fulfillment center will help pick, pack, and ship millions of packages this week to customers in the Spokane area as well as around the world,” Amazon spokeswoman Anne Laughlin said in an email.

Walmart, Best Buy and Target are also offering online deals over the same two days, hoping to lure deal seekers.

“Beat the holiday hustle,” Amazon’s site said on Tuesday. “Holiday savings start now,” a message on Target.com said.

Spokane Valley-based Kaspien, an e-commerce software company and third-party Amazon retailer, said in an email it had already experienced a solid increase in sales by midday Tuesday.

Kaspien anticipates sales growth in many product categories, such as pets, sporting goods, toys and baby items during Amazon Prime Day.

Longtime Spokane electronics retailer Huppin’s has been selling its products on Amazon for nearly 15 years. Its sales – especially for audio and home products – had been robust Tuesday, company President Murray Huppin said.

“Prime Day this year is going to be the kickoff to the online holiday shopping season. We are seeing that, no question,” said Huppin, adding consumer reaction partly could be because fewer people will be traveling or shopping in stores this holiday season because of the pandemic.

“This year is different from any other year,” he said. “There’s a pandemic that’s in the mix and Amazon I think, learned early on, when people weren’t really leaving their homes, how to ramp up delivery and get products into consumers’ homes and make the deliveries.”

Huppin’s is also seeing a boost in sales for its products via Walmart during Prime Day, Huppin said.

There’s good reason for the early start to the holiday shopping season. Retailers worry that a rush of online orders later could lead to shipping delays in November and December. And stores want to avoid big crowds inside their stores during the pandemic.

Whether people will start shopping early remains to be seen. Market research firm eMarketer expects Amazon to bring in $9.9 billion in sales worldwide during the two-day event, up 43% from last year. Amazon hasn’t released sales numbers for past Prime Days.

Amazon also sees the Prime Day event as a way to get more people to sign up for its Prime membership, since only those paying $12.99 a month or $119 a year can partake in the discounts.

This year’s Prime Day is in 19 countries, including two new ones: Brazil and Turkey. It already held Prime Day in India this summer.

Staff Writer Amy Edelen contributed to this report.

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