Workers at Amazon’s JFK8 Staten Island Fulfillment Center sorted and moved packages on Wednesday (November 25), ahead of U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which mark a traditional start to U.S. holiday shopping season, the biggest sales event for U.S. retailers, that lasts few weeks and brings in majority of their sales.
It also makes up for lukewarm periods throughout the year in an economy that relies on retail.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this years holiday shopping season is nothing like in previous years, according to Amazon’s spokesperson Kate Scarpa.
“Amazon actually started Black Friday deals in October, so it’s really been a season long of deals and savings for customers,” said Scarpa. “More customers than ever are shopping online this year, and typically Black Friday and Cyber Monday are one of our busiest times. So we expect it to be even more this year.”
Americans will spend $160 billion on gifts during the current quarter, up 5% from a year ago as people put savings from skipped outings into celebrating Christmas and other year-end holidays, according to industry analyst Coresight Research.
Adobe e-commerce software unit Magento expects Americans to ship gifts to 18% more recipients than a year ago as travel gets curbed.
But Coresight still expects Amazon to capture 18% of gift purchases and 7.2% of overall U.S. retail sales, up from 14% of gift purchases and 5.6% of total sales in 2019.
Amazon hired more than 2,000 new workers since September to speed up processing and delivery times for packages filled with home products, Scarpa said.
“Home has taken whole new meaning,” said Scarpa. “People are spending more time than ever at home, and kitchen products have been a top-seller, specifically.”
In its most recent earnings report at the end of October, Amazon forecast a jump in holiday sales – and costs related to COVID-19 – as consumers continued to shop more online during the pandemic.
Amazon’s product sales rose 32% this year through September, nearly 2-1/2 times the rate over the same period last year.
It pushed its annual sales event Prime Day to October from July as an early start to holiday shopping, and it brought forward the release of its annual guide of potential gifts to just before.
In the meantime, Amazon’s rivals, such as Walmart, Best Buy and hundreds of smaller retailers are bolstering their online gift features, hoping to challenge Amazon dominance as a seller of holiday gifts to homebound shoppers.
They spent millions to fulfill orders faster, expand product catalogs and, in some cases, provide free shipping and even subscription services.
(Production: Hussein Waaile, Aleksandra Michalska)