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Why the world doesn't need Amazon Prime day

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

23 Jun 2021

Business |Opinion

Image: Amazon delivery

Sure, most folks are partial to a bargain. Which is precisely why Amazon introduced its Prime Day shopping bonanza mid-year, at a time of less demand than say Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and anything else on its pushy retail calendar.

Just like sample sales, infomercials or any sales technique, Amazon has created an illusion of demand turning people into ferocious consumers, scrambling (and clicking) to buy unnecessary items just because they are on sale. But don’t be fooled into missing out. Buying mediocre tat at discount is, well, still tat.

If that sounds harsh, there is of course plenty to buy that is not tat, but why would you? Amazon’s diligent marketing teams have been hard at work, supplying everyone from the New York Times to the Daily Mail to Tech Radar with curated lists of what to buy. NY Times’ The Cut recommended Gucci sunglasses, a steal at 375 dollars, while the Daily Mail endorsed Iojoy Scrunch Butt Gym Leggings for 22.99, saving shoppers a whopping 5 dollars. These countless “curated” lists of what we should buy on Amazon are far and wide, but frankly offer nothing of substance, and certainly none of the joy of perusing and shopping in a physical store.

What exactly is wrong with Amazon Prime day?

Just look around your local high street and take note of the empty shops. The thousands of shuttered stores that couldn’t survive a year long feat of being closed. Behind each storefront is an owner, a person, families - people who once were the pride and joy of local communities. And then think of Amazon and Jeff Bezos, of billions of dollars of profit, of corporate retail giants bulldozing small businesses. Of consumerism and marketeers tempting us to buy things we don’t need. Isn’t your local shop far more worthy of your dollars? Do we really need another flash sale, coupon craze and discount mania?

Poor working conditions

For years Amazon has been plagued by poor working conditions, with America’s National Council for Occupational Safety listing Amazon as one of the most unsafe places for warehouse labourers to work in the same year. Seven workers were killed at the company’s warehouses since 2013, a report at the time stated. In the UK last year, workers called attention to reports of high injury rates at one of its facilities, reported the Guardian. These facilities were found to be three times the national average for warehouses, based on the company’s injury reports to the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Every year Amazon receives countless criticisms over its working conditions, especially for its drivers, who according to Business Insider have urinated in water bottles “while on the clock.”

Amazon Prime is a detriment to the environment

Same day shipping was never going to receive an accolade for most sustainable delivery company, despite Amazon’s promise to focus on carbon neutrality and zero-emissions vehicles. Same day shipping for a tube of toothpaste shows exactly why this is bad. Each item purchased requires a truck to move it, cardboard and packaging to hold it and recycling to remove it.

Amazon’s business premise it to sell as many goods as it can and ship these to customers as quickly as possible. Millions of products on Amazon are available for two and one-day shipping, scoring points for logistical expertise, but none for the environment. Amazon reportedly shipped over five billion items to Prime subscribers in 2017, and many more to other shoppers. The vast majority of boxes and packaging end up as trash.

Tax avoidance

A report by the Guardian in May showed Amazon reaped sales of 44 billion euros in Europe in 2020 but paid no corporation tax. Its EU headquarters is based in Luxemburg, a renowned tax haven where many companies are formed using complex corporate structures in a bid to avoid high taxation. In a report called The Sillicon Six by the UK’s Fair Tax Mark, Amazon paid just 3.4 billion dollars in tax on its income so far this decade on revenues of 960.5 billion dollars and profits of 26.8 billion dollars. It doesn’t come as a surprise that Amazon beat out Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple as having the poorest tax conduct. The company is growing its market domination across the globe on the back of revenues that are largely untaxed, and can unfairly undercut local businesses that take a more responsible approach, said the report.

The most convenient store on the planet

Forbes describes Amazon as a trailblazer when it comes to convenience and customer focus. Others have dubbed it the world’s most convenient store. But that convenience comes at a high cost paid by the many smaller businesses who cannot compete. Sure, most of us are happy to pay less where we can, but Amazon is not a bargain in the long run.