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Amazon Celebrates 'Biggest Holiday' as Prime Shopping Members Surge

Amazon Celebrates 'Biggest Holiday' as Prime Shopping Members Surge

By    |   Tuesday, 26 December 2017 12:03 PM

Amazon.com Inc. reportedly claims customers were shopping on its website at "record levels" throughout the months of November and December.

Over the course of one week, more than 4 million people became Prime members or started a free trial, sending Amazon's membership count to new highs, CNBC reported.

However, the Seattle-based online titan didn't provide a specific membership total.

Amazon is again expected to grab the bulk, or more than 50 percent, of new holiday online sales in 2017. CNBC reported.

To be soure, shoppers who are feeling good about the economy and spending more than expected on items like kitchen gadgets, toys and coats could make this the best holiday season in several years, the Associated Press has reported.

That's good news for retailers, some of which have had few reasons of late to be merry.

But there's no question that stores need to keep adapting to how people shop as spending moves online. Customer sentiment could shift again based on how they feel the tax overhaul is affecting them. Tax cuts mean some shoppers may have more money in their pockets, but they could opt to save it instead of spend it.

Experts have issued rosy forecasts for the season. Shoppers seem to be in the mood as unemployment is at 17-year low and consumer sentiment has reached its highest level since 2000.

Meanwhile, Amazon also has quietly snuck into the physical bookstore realm, with 13 brick-and-mortar stores across the United States and counting.

In the upscale Washington suburb of Bethesda, the sector's transformation is playing out in full view: traditional bookstore Barnes & Noble is closing up shop and Amazon is coming to town -- with a gleaming new store soon to open not two minutes' walk away.

"I think the elephant in the room is Amazon," said Donna Paz Kaufman, a Florida-based industry consultant. "Anybody in publishing is concerned about the tremendous market share that Amazon has garnered."

Since it began soaring to e-commerce domination in 1995, Amazon has been a thorn in the side of independent bookstores and big-box chains alike, with Borders shuttered in 2011.

Barnes & Noble's numbers, meanwhile, are dwindling, AFP reported.

The regal, three-level Barnes & Noble in Bethesda feels like more than just a store: coffee drinkers overlook passers-by, while children gather around a storytelling stage, decorated with woodland creatures.

But Barnes & Noble says it was unable to agree on a lease extension, and the shop will close in January after two decades.

Up in arms, over 5,600 people signed a petition urging the Federal Realty Investment Trust -- the property owner -- to "strike a fair leasing deal" and keep Barnes & Noble open.

Sarah Pekkanen, a local author whose first book signing was in the store, dubbed the closure "a loss."

"I bring my kids there all the time, I know some of the people who work there," she told AFP. "It's always sad when a good bookstore closes."

Though itself a big-box store that at its zenith menaced independent sellers, long-time customer Liz Cummings said Barnes & Noble "became a part of the community."

But although she is dismayed by the loss, Cummings, who directs a local writing center, is welcoming Amazon's neighborhood debut.

"There's no concern as far as I can tell, because people want to be able to browse for books," said Cummings. "We'll take it."

Amazon told AFP it will stock only bestselling or highly rated titles and feature local authors in the store, which it said is "all about discovery."

(Newsmax wire services and Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report).

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Amazon said customers were shopping on its website at "record levels" throughout the months of November and December.
amazon, biggest, holiday, shopping, prime
Tuesday, 26 December 2017 12:03 PM
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