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Businesses The Internet Reporting This Holiday Season Their "Best Ever" 314

In a refreshing break from all the doom and gloom, is calling this holiday season their best ever. Reporting a 44 percent rise in the number of items sold, they are refusing to provide actual dollar amounts, so it is still a very subjective measurement. "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."
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  • Money is tight (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ppz003 ( 797487 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:14PM (#26259153) Homepage

    People are going to look for better deals, and when some item can be found for 20 to 50% less online, often with free shipping, of course they are going to turn to the big internet sites.

    • While I recognize that "data" is not the plural of "anecdote," this was absolutely the case for us this year.

      We did all of our Christmas shopping one week before Thanksgiving. We ordered about twenty items from Amazon, some childrens' furniture from a department store's website, and two board games from another online retailer. With the exception of the board games, we specifically purchased only items that qualified for free shipping.

      I've never done this before, but I plan on doing it in the future f

    • Re:Money is tight (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Hijacked Public ( 999535 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:27PM (#26259999)

      I think people look for deals whether the economy is good or bad. People generally want more than what they have regardless so better deals mean they can buy more stuff. Money gets tight you might see some impact on the wanna-be-rich items, like Cadillac Escalades and Coach handbags and crap like that, but staples still sell.

      And to add on to the 'doom and gloom' comment in the editorial: I live kind of in the boonies. Over the holidays I went to see family in a mid sized city and I expected to see some evidence of the economic times being hard. It was Indianapolis, so a lot of auto industry jobs. But every junk chain restaurant we went to was packed to capacity and had hour plus waits. Every mall parking lot was full. People at Fry's were carrying out big screen TVs and new MacBooks. Plenty of SUVs rolling around.

      I know housing is bad, and I know some residential contractors who are slow. And the auto industry is looking bad. But I don't get the newsmans's assertion that things are as bad as the Great Depression. My grandmother washed her paper towels and dried them on a clothesline in the Great Depression. I didn't see any paper towels on any clotheslines anywhere. Or any clotheslines at all for that matter. People seem to be getting along well enough. If Texas Roadhouse has a 45 minute wait for a lousy steak (and the closest restaurant [] to me is still 100% full every night) things must not be as bad as we are being led to believe.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheCarp ( 96830 ) *

      You know, money being tight recently got me to open my eyes...and what I have found has been really enlightening.

      Take the Brother label maker that I got for xmass. I realized that I needed one about the same time my mother was hitting me up for gift ideas. So I looked around, and found both that it was a great idea...and I better tell her where to buy it!

      Why? Simple... I found the price ranged from about $45 to $95 depending solely on where you bought it from, and I wasn't even looking at shipping! Seriousl

  • by ThousandStars ( 556222 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:17PM (#26259187) Homepage
    ... including /.

    See Slate's Amazon.con: How the online retail giant hoodwinks the press [] for details on why this story is idiotic:

    Some, but not all, of these accounts went on to concede that Amazon would not provide revenue data for the entire shopping season, or even for its "peak day." Nor would Amazon confirm or deny that one or both of these revenue figures exceeded those for 2007. Without this information, we can't possibly know whether Amazon had a good year in comparison either to other retailers or to its own sales during the previous Christmas shopping season.

    The same reasoning or lack thereof applies to the Kindle (which I don't like [] for its DRM and other problems), since Amazon won't release sales numbers for it.

    So, did Amazon have their best ever holiday season? Maybe: but we're unlikely to know enough about the metrics used to make this claim to know.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Huntr ( 951770 )
      Although you are generally correct, not all the press was suckered in. The NY Times BITS blog mentioned [] those same concerns.

      But the numbers do little to tell us how good (or bad) Amazon's season really was. The company didn't disclose whether shoppers bought more or fewer high-priced items than in previous years or whether discounts ate into profit margins. It didn't disclose revenue or even the total volume of products it shipped throughout the holiday season.

      What's more, as consumers do more and more of their shopping online, where Amazon is the leading retailer, a "record" season at Amazon is hardly surprising. Amazon has claimed that its holidays were the "best ever" or "busiest ever" every year since at least 2002.

    • So, did Amazon have their best ever holiday season? Maybe: but we're unlikely to know enough about the metrics used to make this claim to know. well said
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dr_canak ( 593415 )

      "The same reasoning or lack thereof applies to the Kindle (which I don't like [] for its DRM and other problems), since Amazon won't release sales numbers for it. "

      The title of your blog is "Product Review: Kindle" but did you actually receive and review a kindle, or are you just pointing out the reasons you wouldn't like a kindle? Nowhere in your "review" do I see mention of you actually having and using the Kindle. I just see an argument as to why you don't like it (or I guess more accurate

    • but we're unlikely to know enough about the metrics used to make this claim to know.

      You will find out in a couple of quarters time when it wont matter anymore.

  • Very subjective... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by binaryspiral ( 784263 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:19PM (#26259213)

    Just because they sold more items doesn't mean they made as much of a profit as they would have during a non-holiday season.

    People are buying more tangible items at cut rate prices instead of handing out gift cards - this helps retailers anywhere move more items.

    The kick-to-the-balls is when the profit enters the equation - if the profit margin on those 6.3 million items was razor thin (or there were more "loss leaders" than usual) then this report is crap.

    • But at the bare minimum, there's a solid conclusion from this that "more crap being bought online than last year".

  • by stokessd ( 89903 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:25PM (#26259297) Homepage

    The big-box retailers taking over all the specialty shops across the US are actually reducing the diversity of goods available locally (the ACE hardware actually has more depth than Lowes in many areas for example). So aside from the obvious lower prices and "dropped at your door" convenience, there just aren't any local options for lots of us living in generica if "best Buy" doesn't carry your desired trinket.


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dr_canak ( 593415 )

      "The big-box retailers taking over all the specialty shops across the US are actually reducing the diversity of goods available locally (the ACE hardware actually has more depth than Lowes in many areas for example)..."

      While I agree in spirit with the post, and also agree that if you don't live in a major metro area, you are limited to the stock on hand of big box retailers, I call BS on the above statement about ACE. Show me some evidence, somewhere, that any ACE hardware has greater diversity in either di

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by stokessd ( 89903 )

        ACE: 4-40 nuts and bolts
        Lowes: FAIL

        ACE: Individual metric taps
        Lowes: FAIL

        ACE: Chrome plated decorative nuts and bolts
        Lowes: FAIL

        The list is long...

        I'm no fan of ACE, but the big boxes really are very limited in each department. they look like they have a lot because they have a ton of departments.


  • by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:30PM (#26259331) Homepage

    The media has been rooting for a recession since Clinton left office.

    NPR especially, going so far as to tell me how this is basically the great depression. Yet, everywhere I go I see people driving SUV's to the various outlets to buy crap they don't need.

    Amazon represents the second-best reason for a free market economy: efficiency. They can bring you goods and services cheaper than their competitors, you win, they win, competitor looses.

    Oh...and I drink YOUR milkshake.

    • by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:42PM (#26259521)

      It will be the great depression until a President that NPR likes is in office. Then it will only be a depression in looking back at who caused it.

      Media bias is interesting and tricky, especially when it uses different "subtle" terminology in different contexts of different people to throw spins. Example being "recession" vs. "depression" vs. "setback" vs. "economic trouble" vs. "economic crisis." "Fee" vs. "tax." "Lawsuit" vs. "challenge." You get the idea.

      IMO, Amazon's success, if they are being honest which I will give them the benefit of the doubt for, makes sense. I don't think this economic crisis is as bad as most politicians would have us believe (they're still getting paid, right?), and most people still bought gifts... but they might have not gone to Macy's or other "expensive" stores and rather looked for the cheaper options. Tighter money often drives people to look for better deals, not necessarily buy fewer items.

      Now, if there was a sudden 50% drop of Americans' TV service, that might point to a serious recession. (for the record, I don't own a TV nor is there one in my house...)

      • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @03:02PM (#26260359)

        On NPR it is and always has been "Mr. Bush", but it's already "President Obama", and he's not even president yet. That said, I still listen to NPR as my primary radio news outlet. You merely have to understand the context and apply the appropriate amount of salt...

        I wouldn't say media bias is "interesting". It just "is". And there are outlets to fit every bias except "neutral".

        Unless things get a few orders of magnitude worse, it'll take some serious trickery to look back on this and call it a "depression". People calling it a depression are seriously misinformed as to what the Great Depression was like. People tend to view the problems they are currently experiencing as worse than what happened to other people in the past. It only stands to reason that looking back on this people will see their future economic "crisis" as worse than this one. If you stand back and look at this objectively, even today you would have a hard time saying what we have now is "worse" than what happened in 2000-2002 depending on which metrics you use.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Kreigaffe ( 765218 )

          I listen to NPR and Rush both. You're right, it's just a matter of understanding the bias -- the sad part is most people can't see the bias (because they agree with it).
          And that's not even the worst of it. Would you believe I've actually gotten into arguments with people who vehemently believed that CNN was a right-wing mouthbox? CNN! I can't capitalize it any stronger or I would! I can't even understand what would have led them to think that, but I get the impression they never actually have watched C

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hillgiant ( 916436 )

          Please cite examples.

          In my experience each is referred to as "President Bush" or "President-Elect Obama" on first reference and "Mr." on subsequent references. Obama was referred to as "Senator" until he resigned his seat, because that was the correct honorific. In fact, I hear more cases of dropping the "Mr." for Obama than for Bush.

          NPR, in my experience, has been much more concerned with editorial correctness on issues like this than with tailoring to some bias.

          But I guess I'm just some "latte sipping l

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by will_die ( 586523 )
        Univerity of Marylard has an interesting report where they did a survey of the use of the word recession to describe the economy in the news and found that during the current Bush presidency before the start of the recession it was used 4x as much then compared to during Clinton when we were in an actual recession.
  • by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <> on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:31PM (#26259343) Homepage
    I waited until the last minute (Sunday, December 21) to order anything. I tried ordering from the manufacturer's website [], but they were not set up for two-day shipping. So I ordered from Amazon, which advertised "in stock" and "two-day shipping". Amazingly, within minutes of getting the e-mail that Amazon had received the order, I got another e-mail from Amazon saying that my order had already shipped! When the boxes arrived on Christmas Eve, it was obvious they were very hurriedly packed from the random tape spews, but everything was fine. I can only imagine legions of temp workers at Amazon warehouses working late into the night that Sunday night -- like Santa's elves.

    Another order that I did place from a manufacturer website [] did come OK and on time, but it was a nail-biting experience. Although the website offered second-day delivery as an option (actually it was one of those outsourced shopping cart sites), the confirmation e-mail that came directly from the manufacturer said "5-7 business days". I replied to that e-mail asking what was up, but never got a response.

    I worry about the day when Amazon gets too big and starts becoming evil (e.g. censorship), but for now, I am a happy and loyal Amazon customer.

  • Doesn't Amazon deal mostly in credit cards ( id est consumer credit ) ?

    Doesn't that mean we'll all be fucked when the bills start to roll in and people default on them?
    • Debit cards work can as credit cards, so its difficult to tell how much of any companies sales were due to credit.
      • by nwf ( 25607 )

        Debit cards work can as credit cards, so its difficult to tell how much of any companies sales were due to credit.

        It's easy for a company to tell that, since such information is broken out on their credit card summaries. Debit cards cost the merchant less.

    • No, defaulting isn't bad! The government can always bailout the company with the government's own hard-earned money! (It DOES take a lot of work to collect all those taxes, it's a good thing we're not the ones paying fo.... wait...)

  • I love Amazon's sell-your-own-stuff service as much as I do the site itself. I finally decided to get rid of the college books I'm never going to touch again, and Amazon makes the entire process insanely simple. In the past week I've made a few hundred bucks and it took almost no effort.

    Also, the Amazon music store is fantastic, there's no way I'm going back to iTunes. Real MP3s, 256Kbps, and they sell long songs individually instead of making you download the whole album.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @01:54PM (#26259641) Homepage

    Amazon's fulfilment business is up, but that doesn't mean Amazon itself is selling more. More and more, Amazon is doing order processing for others. The fact that they're focusing on number of items shipped rather than revenue probably means revenue didn't go up.

    • by einer ( 459199 )

      Or they're hiding what they charge for transaction margin. They could be making much more for doing much less, we simply don't have the data.

  • Individual songs? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mkirsch ( 736318 )
    A 44% increase in items sold is nice, if the kind of items are similar to those sold last year. I wonder, however, what part of the raise comes from individual mp3 songs sold through their (very good) online music store. They don't say, so it makes me wonder what the motivation for their silence is. Hmmm...
  • Besides the obvious economy being in the crapper, why would someone spend $36 for a Bluray at Best Buy when you can get the same Bluray from Amazon for $22. Pretty much anything you buy at Best Buy amazon has for far less. A few months back, I looked at 500GB drives at Best Buy. They wanted like $250 for it, when I purchased it at Newegg for $150. Amazon had the same price, however I will buy from someone else before I go to Amazon. I really can't stand their CEO so I try to avoid them. But, when push

  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Monday December 29, 2008 @03:32PM (#26260653) Homepage
    I read Amazon staff punished for being ill [] and after the article was published they asked its staff to bare their bottoms [].

    With that sort of attitude I would recommend shopping elsewhere until they treat their staff properly.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."