Prime Day 2022 lure budget-conscious shoppers of household essentials as inflation soars

Prime Day used to feel like Christmas in July as Amazon offered discounts on TVs and electronics comparable to Black Friday sales. This Prime Day, household essentials were  the top spending category even if only by a bit, according to data published by Numerator. 

While shoppers scored great deals on a variety of electronics, budget-conscience shoppers took advantage of Amazon's unique discounts on regular household items during its annual two-day sales event that ended on July 13. 

Consumers stocked up on staples as inflation remains at a near 40-year high. That's causing Americans to cut back on discretionary goods and dedicate a larger chunk of their budget to necessities, which are also costing more. 

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“This year I'm seeing more household items thrown into the mix,” said Louis Ramirez, deals editor at Tom’s Guide on the first day of sales. For instance, Amazon was running a promotion where customers who bought at least $75 worth of Proctor&Gamble products in one order starting June 20 received an extra $20 credit for Prime Day purchases. 

P&G manufactures a wide range of household goods and health products including Swiffer mops, Tide laundry detergent, and Tampax tampons. 

“It's a no-brainer deal because you were probably going to buy these household items at some point anyway,” Ramirez told USA TODAY. “So why not get a $20 Amazon credit in the process?” 

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That deal was set to last through the end of Prime Day, but a notice posted to the Prime Day deals page on the first day said all rewards had been claimed. 

Besides P&G products, Amazon’s house-branded home goods, in particular, were listed at a steep discount. For instance, a 12-roll package of paper towels was listed for $16.77. A month ago, the item was listed at nearly double that price, according to data from Camelcamelcamel. 

"Household Essentials" were the #1 reported items consumers say they  bought ( 29% of Prime Day shoppers), research firm Numerator said.  That's up from last year's 27% of Prime Day shoppers  who bought Household Essentials, it noted. Last year, the category was the fourth most popular behind health and beauty, electronics and apparel and shoes.

Amazon Prime Day gift card promotion and snacks

There are fewer food and pantry deals this year compared to prior Prime Days, said Kristin McGrath, shopping expert at RetailMeNot.  

That may help explain why some Frito-Lay snack variety packs, which are selling at a 20% discount, ended the sale as the sixth most popular purchase after holding in the top five for most of the event, said Numerator.

  Fire TV Sticks, Echo Dot 4th Gens, Blink Cameras & Doorbells, Amazon Gift Card Reloads and Ring Video Doorbells took the top five spots in the survey. Amazon declined to confirm the Numerator data, which Numerator says is based on its OmniPanel. The OmniPanel is unweighted and not guaranteed to be representative of the U.S. population, it noted. 

Some speculated Frito-Lay snacks and other general items could be easy add-ons customers can attach to their orders at the last moment. 

“People are already there for the sexy stuff, and this is an opportunity to sell other stuff to them,” said Jonathan Walker, executive director of Elevate’s Center for the New Middle Class, which researches behaviors of the middle class. “Frito-Lay is easy to attach because it’s generally liked and can be attached to everyone’s bag. This may be the genius of Prime Day – creating an event where they’ve now figured out how to pull spending out of grocery stores.” 

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Many consumers also are eating out less due to inflation, according to a recent survey published by Morning Consult. Additionally, reservations booked through OpenTable lately are lagging where they were at the same time in 2019. 

“Amazon is really focusing on gift card deals this year, with a section of Prime Day dedicated to them and a wider selection of retailers and restaurants for up to 25% off face value,” McGrath said. 

Separately, Amazon  was giving customers who purchase an Amazon gift card worth at least $50 an extra $12.50 to spend.

Inflation impacts 

Though 53% of Prime Day shoppers were from high-income households with more than $80,000 annually, according to Numerator's survey of 4,847 Prime Day shoppers, Numerator said 83% were price-conscious as inflation has soared this year. 

Of those, 34% said they waited for this sale to buy a specific item at a discount while 28%  resisted a good deal on Tuesday because it wasn’t a necessity, Numerator said. Additionally, 22% of shoppers said they price-checked items outside of Amazon before buying to make sure the deal was indeed a bargain, it said. 

Of those who shopped both this Prime Day and last, 35% spent more this year while 65% spent the same or less, Numerator data showed. 

“Between inflation and habits developed during the pandemic, consumers are used to buying household items online, and they are motivated to shop around to find value,” said Amanda Schoenbauer, Numerator analyst.

Prime Day boosts overall e-commerce

Across both days of Amazon's sale event, total U.S. online spend across retailers grew 8.5% to $11.9 billion from the two days of last year's event, Adobe data showed. 

Some of that increase in spending could simply be due to inflation and the rising costs of goods, said  Ed Hallen, co-founder and chief product officer at ecommerce marketing firm Klaviyo.

Additional online sales may also have stemmed from discounts for "back to school" items with the beginning of school years just around the corner, said Pat Brown, vice president at Adobe.

Elisabeth Buchwald is a personal finance and markets correspondent for USA TODAY. You can follow her on Twitter @BuchElisabeth and sign up for our Daily Money newsletter here