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Amazon says this year's holiday shopping period has been the biggest in its history

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Key Points
  • Amazon said this year's holiday shopping season has been the biggest in its history.
  • More consumers are doing their holiday shopping from their couch due to the pandemic.
  • Amazon is widely expected to be one of the biggest winners this holiday season, with one Wall Street firm estimating it could capture 42 cents of every dollar spent during the busy shopping period.
An Amazon fulfillment center in Frankenthal, Germany.
Thorsten Wagner | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Amazon said Tuesday that this year's holiday shopping season has been the biggest in its history, as the coronavirus pandemic forced more people than ever to do their shopping online.

The e-commerce giant said in a blog post that customers have been shopping early for gifts and seasonal items for their loved ones. While Amazon has been piling up sales, many retailers reliant on physical stores have been struggling to survive.

Amazon said popular purchases include the new Echo Dot, former President Barack Obama's book "A Promised Land," and the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer Brush. Self-care, "nesting at home" and "cozy comfort" were among the most popular trends during the period.

"In a holiday season unlike any other, it's clear that customers still want great deals on gifts for their loved ones or a little something extra for themselves, and we're glad to help deliver smiles throughout the season," said Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer.

"Thank you to our customers, employees, and selling partners around the world for making this our biggest holiday season to date, and for everything you're doing to support our communities and each other now and throughout the year."

The company didn't disclose actual sales figures for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, which are typically its busiest days in the holiday shopping period.

Amazon has been criticized for promoting its own products above those from independent retailers, but the company said the latter had seen "record demand" on its platform this year.

Independent businesses selling on Amazon surpassed $4.8 billion in worldwide sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, Amazon said, noting that the figure was up 60% from last year. It added that 71,000 small and medium-sized businesses had seen sales above $100,000 in this holiday season.

Like many other retailers, Amazon began offering holiday deals earlier than ever this year. Prime Day, which was pushed back from mid-July to October, became the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

Consumers still opened up their wallets on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, despite the earlier start, and did more of their shopping online. Spending online on Black Friday this year climbed 22% year over year to a record $9 billion, according to Adobe Analytics. Cyber Monday, the busiest online shopping day of the year, is also expected to notch record sales.

The flood of online shopping was bad news for many brick-and-mortar locations, as many customers remain cautious about making trips to crowded stores and malls. Foot traffic to stores on Black Friday dropped 52% compared with last year, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions.

Amazon is one of the best-positioned retailers to benefit from the trend. The company has staffed up its warehouses significantly and expanded its warehouse footprint to store more goods, among other things, to make sure it's prepared for the holiday rush. Those investments could lead to it claiming 42 cents of every dollar spent during this holiday season, up from 36 cents last year, according to Wall Street firm Truist Securities.