As an indicator of just how unpredictable this holiday season will be, sales numbers for Target's two-day Deal Days this week more than doubled compared to last year.
The Deal Days coincided with Amazon's Prime Day two-day event, plus big discounted pushes from Best Buy and Walmart.
Target, the Minneapolis-based retailer, said Friday that sales were 2½ times what they were last year, when the big sales events were held in the summer.
The new statistics are a sign of the robust online shopping that analysts have predicted will dominate this holiday season as the U.S. continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
"As we kicked off the holiday season with Target Deal Days, guests shopped deals on thousands of items, making this our biggest and most successful Target Deal Days ever," said Christina Hennington, Target's chief merchandising officer, in a statement. "In addition to guests saving millions of dollars on some of the season's hottest items, their use of our contactless same-day services nearly quadrupled, allowing them to receive their purchases in as soon as an hour, with no membership fees required."
During the Tuesday and Wednesday sales, Target's most popular deals were for Apple AirPods earphones, KitchenAid mixers and toys. Many customers used same-day fulfillment options that limit contact such as Drive Up and Order Pickup, which grew nearly 300% compared to last year.
Target's performance likely benefited from the change in the event's date. Last year, Target launched its Deal Days sale in July to compete with Amazon's Prime Day sale it offers its Amazon Prime subscribers. With the sales coming so late in the year, they unofficially kicked off the holiday season this week.
Amazon also said its Prime Day sales broke records. The online retailer said the recent Prime Day sales were the two biggest days ever for third-party sellers on its platform with sellers seeing global sales surpass $3.5 billion.
Not to be outdone, Richfield-based electronics seller Best Buy offered dozens of "Black Friday" deals as well to coincide with Amazon and Target's sales, the earliest it has ever started its Black Friday event. A spokeswoman for the retailer said it didn't have sales numbers to share Friday.
Major retailers have indicated that they will offer holidays deals earlier as they respond to a shopping season that is predicted to be more spread out than the normal condensed holiday rush. Target has said it plans to offer holidays deals throughout November. Best Buy has said more deals will come later this month.