Amazon Smashes Records as Pandemic Spurs Online Holiday Shopping

Amazon.com says the start to the holiday shopping season has been the biggest in its history, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic driving consumers to its e-commerce platform.
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Amazon.com  (AMZN) - Get Report said Tuesday this year’s start to the holiday shopping season has been the biggest in its history as the coronavirus pandemic drove consumers to its e-commerce platform in record numbers.

While Amazon didn’t disclose total sales figures for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it did say in a blog post that customers have been shopping early for gifts and seasonal items, making it “our biggest holiday season to date.”

“In a holiday season unlike any other, it’s clear that customers still want great deals on gifts for their loved ones or a little something extra for themselves, and we’re glad to help deliver smiles throughout the season,” Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke said in the blog post.

Amazon did disclose how its third-party retailers are doing. Independent businesses selling on Amazon surpassed $4.8 billion in worldwide sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, Amazon said, noting that the figure was up 60% on last year. Some 71,000 small and medium-sized businesses have seen sales above $100,000 so far this holiday shopping season.

Amazon has been criticized for promoting its own products above those from independent retailers, but the company said the latter had seen “record demand” on its platform this year.

With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing millions to upend their traditional Thanksgiving holiday plans, with brick-and-mortar stores limiting the number of people allowed inside and with people themselves looking to avoid crowds, consumers have gone online in search of holiday deals and discounts.

Amazon gave some hints of what's hot this holiday season, noting that top-selling U.S. items to date include Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land,” the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer Hot Air Brush, Lite-Brite Ultimate Classic, Amazon Smart Plug, and 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service: Personal Genetic DNA Test.

Shopping for self-care, nesting at home, and cozy comfort are also top U.S. trends, Amazon said, with beauty, home, and fashion among top categories shopped so far. Sports and pets are also hot categories this holiday season, Amazon said, as are toys, including LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book, LEGO Star Wars Mandalorian Battle Pack, Hot Wheels 20 Car Gift Pack, and L.O.L. Surprise! Present Surprise Doll.

Spending online on Black Friday this year climbed 22% year over year to a record $9 billion, according to Adobe Analytics. Cyber Monday, the busiest online shopping day of the year, also notched record sales, according to Adobe.

Shares of Amazon were up 0.89% at $3,196.24 in trading on Tuesday.