Amazon has reported a record-breaking start to the holiday shopping season, as the switch to online retail gathers pace.
The internet shopping giant said the period from the middle of October through to Cyber Monday has been "the largest holiday shopping season so far" in the company's history.
Amazon did not reveal details of total spending across its operations, but it did offer some data on shopping habits so far.
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The company said that independent businesses selling on Amazon – nearly all of which are small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) – saw worldwide sales grow by more than 60% year-over-year to $4.8 billion between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The company said that over 71,000 SMBs worldwide have passed $100,000 in sales this holiday season to date, and that US SMBs have sold an average of 9,500 products per minute. In Europe, the European Commission recently said it believes that Amazon is breaching EU competition rules by unfairly using independent sellers' data as part of its own planning "to the detriment of the other marketplace sellers".
Amazon also said that US best-sellers during the holiday season so far include its Echo Dot device and Barack Obama's book A Promised Land, and that more than twice as many customers asked its Alexa digital assistant for recipes and cooking advice this Thanksgiving compared to last year.
The COVID-19 crisis is expected to drive spending online, with record gains for e-commerce: Adobe recently predicted this year will see $189 billion in online sales – effectively two years' worth of growth in e-commerce in one year.
Adobe is predicting Black Friday to reach $10 billion in online sales this year – up from just under $8 billion last year. And even though many will be shopping from home, that doesn't mean all that spending will be done on a PC. Adobe predicts consumers will do 42% of their shopping from smartphones this holiday season, with an estimated $28 billion more spent using smartphones this year than during the 2019 holiday.