Amazon Sales Soar Above Holiday Retail Slump

Online retail giant Amazon.com announced Friday that it had the strongest holiday shopping season in its history.

Customers ordered more than 6.3 million items worldwide on its peak shopping day, Dec. 15, which works out to about 72.9 items ordered per second, Amazon said.

Amazon shipped to more than 210 countries and shipped more than 5.6 million items on Dec. 15. Amazon did not say whether holiday sales were up year-over-year, however.

Despite the Friday announcement, Amazon.com’s stock was down 5.27 percent to US$49.07 per share in midday trading.

Best Sellers

A variety of merchandise categories and items led the way during the holiday season at Amazon.com, including the following:

  • Toys: The Eyeclops night vision stealth goggles, the Blokus classic board game and Wild Planet’s Hyper Dash,
  • Consumer electronics: Samsung’s 52-inch LCD high-definition television, the Apple iPod and the Acer Aspire One notebook computer,
  • DVDs: “Wall-E” and “The Dark Knight,”
  • Books: “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” by J.K. Rowling and two parts of the teen-oriented vampire saga “Twilight,” “Eclipse” and “Breaking Dawn” by Stephanie Meyer,
  • Music: “Fearless” by Taylor Swift, “And Winter Came” by Enya and the “Twilight” soundtrack.

Shift to E-tailers

Amazon.com wasn’t the only online retailer to see a substantial increase in Web traffic this holiday season, said Richard Hastings, a consumer strategist with Global Hunter Securities.

“There’s a definite shift by the consumer to browse and compare product online,” Hastings told the E-Commerce Times. “Kohl’s, Sears, K-Mart, Macy’s and Wal-Mart all experienced very high year-over-year growth in traffic.”

Amazon.com, he said, is the equivalent of iTunes in the online retail world.

“It has dominating market bandwidth and multiple platforms where you can buy things from different stores within Amazon.com,” Hastings said. “You can buy fixed price or you can do a little bargaining.”

Despite the rise in traffic to these sites, year-over-year sales remained flat, he said.

“Most people have access to high-speed connections to the Internet either at work or at home,” Hastings said. “Consumers are very interested in the digital experience, but they don’t have a lot of money to spend.”

Outlook for 2009

Though the U.S. economy is caught in a year-long recession, forcing consumer spending down, Hastings remained bullish on the e-tailing sector.

“More retailers will be increasing their investment in their online presence in order to capture more Web traffic,” he said. “That’s where the shoppers are, it’s less expensive and the gross profit online is better than it is in bricks and mortar stores.”

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