Consumers are ready to have a "very thoughtful holiday season" and head back out into the world, and their optimism was reflected over the holiday weekend, Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon's worldwide consumer business, said Sunday.
Still, finding workers remains a "challenge," even though Amazon brought on tens of thousands of workers last week, Clark said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
"We're right in the middle of what we call 'Turkey Five,' which is between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, and we're off to a great start," Clark said. "We had a record-breaking Black Friday, and it's really interesting to see how customers are spending in this first post-vaccine holiday as we start to come back together."
And the shopping trends are reflecting as much, said Clark.
"Consumers are spending on things like apparel," said Clark. "We're seeing a lot of uptick in denim and dresses. We're seeing a lot of things like home decor, particularly in our holiday decor, which is showing I think families and friends are preparing to come back together, as they just did at Thanksgiving, and plan to do in the Christmas holidays. We continue to see spend on things like toys. A lot of kids are going to have a good visit from Santa this holiday season, I suspect."
The one downturn, though, is in electronics, and that is also reflective of the pandemic, said Clark.
"People have spent so much during COVID, supporting their home offices and various electronics, but we're off to a very good start," he continued. "I don't see inflation particularly impacting consumers this holiday season so far, and we're very optimistic about what's to come."
Meanwhile, the White House has blamed the delta coronavirus variant for adding to shipping delays, and Clark said it's still too early to understand what will happen with the newest variant, omicron.
"I am incredibly optimistic around what the scientists and these companies that have supported us with these miraculous vaccines are going to do," said Clark. "I think consumers are going to wait and see in terms of what happens with that but are going to move on with their lives into this holiday season."
Amazon does not require its employees to be vaccinated, but Clark said the company has spent "hundreds of millions of dollars" to invest in laboratory equipment to test employees and has offered numerous on-site vaccine clinics.
"We do think vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and we continue to work with our teams to incentivize them and help them understand why it's so important and get them vaccinated," said Clark.
Amazon is also facing the "challenge" to find good employees, even with average wages of $18 an hour, but the company did bring 45,000 employees on board last week, said Clark.
"I hear from small businesses every day about how challenging it is for them to fill their roles," he continued. "I think it's just because people are looking at their lives so differently through the course of the pandemic."
People are also reevaluating what kind of work they want now, because "so many things have changed for people during the course of the pandemic. It's hard to say it's one particular thing. We're proud of the offering we have for employees, and we're finding success with it, as I said, hiring over 40,000 people a week for the next few weeks. But it's a challenge."
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