Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Occurring later this year due to COVID-19, Amazon's Prime Day began on Tuesday amid direct competition from other retailers that have accelerated the arrival of the holiday shopping season by a few weeks, experts say.
Usually held in July, Prime Day will last through Tuesday and Wednesday. Amazon said it's spending more than $100 million on promotional activities to aid small businesses and attract new customers during the two-day sale.
Prime Day is available to shoppers in the United States, Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Singapore, Netherlands, Mexico, Luxembourg, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, China, Canada, Belgium, Austria and Australia.
Competitors including Walmart, Best Buy, eBay, Target and Macy's have also rolled out big sales to compete with Amazon, transforming this week into an unofficial launch of the holiday shopping season -- which typically begins with Black Friday on the day after Thanksgiving.
Amazon's move to the fall for Prime Day has prompted competitors to hold their major sales now instead of Thanksgiving, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers retail analyst Steven Barr.
"Let's face it, Prime Day is a thing," he told CNET. "It's become as important to American shoppers as Black Friday.
"So to compete, retailers have had to step up with bigger and better deals to capture their share of attention."
Target is also holding its Deal Days event Tuesday and Wednesday to coincide with Prime Day.
Best Buy is promoting "Black Friday deals right now" and guaranteeing Black Friday prices on certain items.
Other major retailers including Home Depot, Kohl's and Sam's Club have said they will spread their sales over a longer period of time during the holidays, rather than focusing on Black Friday.
Another factor in starting holiday shopping earlier this year are concerns that some gifts may sell out or fail to arrive on time due to the pandemic.
"As a result of fulfillment and shipping related issues many consumers experienced during the pandemic, they're planning to start their holiday shopping earlier this year," Sara Skirboll, senior director of marketing communications for RetailMeNot, told USA Today.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving is a high-risk activity for spreading COVID-19.