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Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

In just four years, Amazon's invented Prime Day has become an event with as much clout as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, analysts report. And while this year got off to a rough start, the event, which ended at 3 a.m. ET Wednesday, was in many ways the biggest one yet.

Why it matters: Amazon uses the event not just to boost sales and reward existing customers, but also to sign up new Prime customers.

  • Prime customers are, like their name suggests, some of the company's most valuable ones. New Prime subscribers spent over $1,200 in the year after signing up, on average, compared to roughly $600 spent before having access to Prime, according to an estimate from Second Measure.
  • But there are signs membership is slowing down. Amazon Prime membership only grew 12% in the past 12 months, down from 35% growth during the previous 12 months, per Digital Commerce 360.

The highlights:

  • Bigger brands: The sales were bigger than last year — not only with Amazon brands — but with notable retail brands like Calvin Klein, P&G and Samsung, ranging from 20-50% off. This year's Prime deals were better than Black Friday last year, per analysis from bestblackfriday.com.
  • Anti-Prime days: Prime Day is also now big for others in e-commerce too. eBay rewarded shoppers if they purchased items over $119 — the price of a Prime membership — with $25 off a purchase. Other retailers that had sales included Google, Best Buy, Target and Walmart.
  • Andy Rubin's Essential used Prime Day to sell its smartphone for a deeply discounted $250. The company sold on the order of 30,000 phones with the device now on back order.

The lowlights:

  • Downtime: Amazon's website started suffering glitches and outages as soon as Prime Day started on Monday. That created headaches for customers and for the company, which scrambled to adjust limited time offers so customers had a chance to cash in on the deals they were looking for.
  • Lacking in gadgets: Unlike Black Friday, there were only a handful of TV deals, says Boomerang Commerce.
  • Food for thought: Whole Foods' items were not included in any Prime Day deals, but Amazon rewarded shoppers who visited Whole Foods stores during Prime Day with a $10 return in their Amazon account.

What's next: Look for Amazon to tout how this was the biggest and best Prime Day ever in an adjective-filled press release.

  • The company is famously short on details, so expect it to merely compare this year to previous ones.
  • Amazon announces its Q2 financial results July 26, which could provide additional insight — perhaps even an update on the number of Prime subscribers.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
9 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.