AMAZON says 2008 holiday season 'best ever'... - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 12-26-2008, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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AMAZON says 2008 holiday season 'best ever'...

SEATTLE (AP) -- Online retailer Inc. called this holiday season its "best ever," saying Friday that it saw a 17 percent increase in orders on its busiest day -- a rare piece of good news in a season that has been far from merry for most retailers, including online businesses.

Amazon customers ordered more than 6.3 million items on Dec. 15, compared with roughly 5.4 million on its peak day last year, the company said. It shipped more than 5.6 million products on its best day, a 44 percent rise over 2007, when it shipped about 3.9 million on its busiest day.

The company did not provide dollar figures and wouldn't say whether the average value of orders had changed, and the jumps it reported Friday are in line with increases Amazon has seen since it started releasing the figures in 2002.

Amazon's best-sellers included the Nintendo Wii game console, Samsung's 52-inch LCD HDTV and Apple Inc.'s iPod touch.

Analysts agreed Amazon's report was good news for the online shopping giant, but they were divided over whether the results indicate strength in online commerce in general.

Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said Amazon's experience shows the current economy is favoring discount retailers, both online and offline.

"The Amazon story doesn't surprise me because Amazon has always traditionally been a leader on price, and they're one of the first places consumers go when they're looking for things online," Mulpuru said. "In many ways they're like the Wal-Mart of the online world."

Wal-Mart is one of very few traditional retailers where revenue has risen this holiday season over last.

Holiday sales typically account for 30 percent to 50 percent of a retailer's annual total, but rising unemployment, home foreclosures, the stock market decline and other economic worries led many shoppers to slash their shopping budgets this year.

SpendingPulse -- a division of MasterCard Advisors -- said its preliminary data show that online sales fell 2.3 percent compared with the 2007 holiday season, while retail sales overall fell 5.5 percent to 8 percent, including sales of cars and gasoline. The decline was 2 percent to 4 percent when auto and gas sales are excluded.

Online shopping may have gotten a boost from winter storms during last two weeks before Christmas, which made travel to brick-and-mortar stores more difficult.

And, although Amazon's orders rose, the company didn't say whether orders were, on average, worth more or less than last year. Spokeswoman Sally Fouts said the company would release revenue results in its fourth-quarter earnings report, due in about a month.

But she said this was Amazon's "best season ever."

Orders to Amazon on the peak day of its holiday season have jumped in the double-digit percentage range for at least the past 5 years, according to data released by the Seattle, Wash.-based company since 2002. Last year, Amazon's orders spiked 35 percent to 5.4 million at their peak, from 4 million in 2006.

Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Scott Devitt said online retailers' sales tend to grow much faster than those of brick-and-mortar retailers, but he said that difference narrowed this year. That's in part because shoppers tend to go to stores for necessities and online for discretionary purchases, he said. And in an economic downturn, consumers focus on their most-needed purchases and cut back on more frivolous items.

Devitt said Amazon benefited from a vast infrastructure that allows for faster, more reliable shipping than most of its online peers offer. He called Amazon's announcement an "extremely positive data point" and said the company is "uniquely positioned to do well in an environment like this."

That environment has left many retailers in a tough position. NPD Group senior retail analyst Marshal Cohen said they will be forced in coming weeks to take still more drastic measures to drive sales and raise whatever cash flow they can.

Amazon's shares gained 34 cents to close Friday at $51.78, a 0.7 percent rise.

Amazon says 2008 holiday season was 'best ever' - Yahoo! Finance

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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 12-27-2008, 05:44 AM
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US retail sales data deepens year-end gloom

WASHINGTON (AFP) - - Christmas retail sales plunged in the United States, a poll showed Friday, as Japan reported record cuts in production in November in a gloomy run-up to 2009 for the world economy.

A leading think tank in London also forecast the British economy will shrink by 2.9 percent next year in the biggest contraction since the end of World War II as retailers slashed prices in a bid to boost post-Christmas sales.

US retail sales dropped by up to eight percent for the traditional November-December shopping period, making it one of the worst holiday shopping periods in decades, the MasterCard Inc.'s SpendingPulse unit said in a report.

"A difficult economic environment combined with unfavorable weather... made 2008 one of the most challenging holiday shopping seasons in decades," said Michael McNamara, Vice President of Research and Analysis for SpendingPulse.

"While total retail sales are down in the 5.5 to eight percent range for November and December, there were a few signs of relative strength," said McNamara, who pointed to smaller cuts in the food sector and Internet sales.

US share prices actually opened higher in light post-Christmas trading, however, after the US Federal Reserve threw a lifeline to ailing automaker General Motors's partly owned finance company.

In the first exchanges, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 43.95 points (0.52 percent) to 8,512.44 and the tech-rich Nasdaq rose 5.20 points (0.34 percent) to 1,530.10.

The data was generally downbeat across the Atlantic too, with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) in London issuing one of the grimmest forecasts yet for the British economy in 2009.

"We're anticipating 2009 to have GDP (gross domestic product) levels 2.9 percent lower than 2008. That'll be the worst one-year fall in GDP since 1946," CEBR managing director Mark Pragnell told BBC radio.

The government has predicted a GDP contraction of up to 1.25 percent.

There were also more discouraging reports from European retailers.

Shopkeepers in Athens said they would defy unions and open on Sunday after disappointing sales in the run-up to Christmas.

In Britain stores were touting discounts as high as 90 percent in a bid to attract shoppers in the sales after a November which was down on 2007.

In Japan, the world's second biggest economy, the government said industrial production in November fell by 8.1 percent from the previous month -- the fastest rate since the government began releasing the statistics in 1953.

"The public, business people and politicians, we all must give our all so that the economy would not nosedive even below its lowest point," Economy Minister Kaoru Yosano said, warning the end to the slump was not in sight.

The Japanese yen came under pressure in Asian trade after the discouraging data report. However, Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei index rose 1.63 percent to a six-week high on bargain-hunting in thin holiday trade.

Elsewhere in Asia, Thailand's new prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, told AFP in an interview that the downturn would be tougher than the 1997 Asian financial crisis because of Thailand's joint political and economic problems.

"Last time the crisis began here and spread out. This time we are feeling the effects from the crisis that had happened outside," said the new premier, an economist who came to power amid political turmoil on December 15.

"And while we have good financial health, it's the real sector that will come back to hurt the financial sector," he added, outlining a 300-billion-baht (8.6-billion-dollar) stimulus plan that he said would help Thailand recover.

World oil prices rebounded in Asian trade after tumbling to four-year lows before Christmas. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for February delivery, rose 1.39 dollars to 36.74 dollars a barrel in afternoon trade.

US retail sales data deepens year-end gloom - Yahoo! Singapore News
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