Online retailer Amazon.com Inc. beat its own holiday-season sales record this year, and on its flagship U.S. site, Amazon.com, consumer electronics sales beat the company’s traditional book business for the first time on Thanksgiving weekend, the company announced Monday.
The company’s holiday shopping season, from Thanksgiving (Nov. 25) through Dec. 23, also saw Amazon’s busiest day ever, when customers on all its shopping sites ordered 2.8 million items, the equivalent of 32 items per second, according to spokesman Craig Berman. Amazon would not reveal what day that occurred, for competitive reasons, Berman said.
The season also came with at least one headache: The Amazon.com site was intermittently inaccessible for several hours on Dec. 6, for reasons the company declined to detail.
Amazon’s rising holiday sales came during a strong season for online shopping overall, in which sales grew significantly from last year, according to industry analysts. ComScore Networks Inc. last week projected that non-travel online retail spending would grow by between 23 percent and 26 percent year over year to between US$15.1 billion and $15.5 billion in November and December.
Amazon, in Seattle, was founded as an online bookstore in 1995 and now operates separate online shopping sites in the U.K., Germany, France, Japan, Canada and China. The company shipped items to 217 countries during the holiday period, according to an Amazon statement.
The company’s Web sites now sell a wide variety of items, but until the four-day Thanksgiving weekend this year no other category had surpassed books in any period, Berman said. Consumer electronics was the best-selling product category on Amazon.com that weekend in terms of sales revenue.
Top electronics items for the season on Amazon.com included the Apple Computer Inc. 20GB iPod and 4GB Silver Mini iPod as well as Apple’s iTunes $15 prepaid card. The Philips DVP642 DivX Progressive Scan DVD player and the Canon Inc. PowerShot SD 110 3MP Digital Elph camera also were popular items, according to an Amazon statement.
Watches and music also sold briskly. Amazon.com’s U.S. site sold more than one watch per minute during the holiday period and music sales for the first time surpassed 1 million units per week for two consecutive weeks in December, according to the company.
By speeding up its own order processing, Amazon was able this year to extend the deadline for customers to have items sent before Christmas (Dec. 25) using standard delivery. Customers could wait until Dec. 20 and get their items delivered on time without having to upgrade to Amazon’s 2-day or 1-day delivery, Berman said.
The holidays were good to the U.S. satellite radio business, too. Both major nationwide satellite radio broadcasters, XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., reported Monday that strong holiday sales helped them surpass their year-end goals for signing up subscribers. XM surpassed its goal of 3.1 million total subscribers and Sirius beat its own prediction of having 1 million subscribers by year’s end, according to statements from the companies.