Amazon’s latest milestone: 150 million Prime members

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon had another prime holiday season.

The online retailer said on Thursday it has more than 150 million Prime members worldwide who pay USD119 a year for faster shipping and other perks. That’s up 50 per cent from the last time Amazon disclosed the number in 2018. It also surpasses Netflix, which has 139 million members globally who pay to stream movies and TV shows.

“More people joined Prime this quarter than ever before,” said Amazon’s CEO and founder Jeff Bezos.

The Seattle-based company also reported financial results for the holiday season that were far better than analysts expected. Its shares soared 10 per cent to USD2,055 in after-hours trading on Thursday.

The staggering number of Prime members is sure to spook other retailers. Analysts have said Prime subscribers typically spend more of their money at Amazon than other places.

There have already been signs that brick-and-mortar retailers had a rough holiday season. Target reported disappointing sales growth for last November and December. And department stores Macy’s, Kohl’s and JC Penney all posted holiday sales declines. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, will release its results next month.

An Amazon robot sends a package down a chute, transporting packages from workers to chutes that are organised by zip code, at an Amazon warehouse facility in Goodyear, Arizona. PHOTO: AP

Amazon said part of the reason for the jump in Prime members is its promise to deliver more of its goods in one day instead of the two. That has been expensive to do, but Amazon said on Thursday that its costs for the effort have started to ease and were slightly below the USD1.5 billion it expected to spend during the last three months of the year.

Overall, the company said its fourth-quarter profit rose eight per cent to USD3.3 billion.

Earnings per share came to USD6.47, far beyond the USD4.04 per share analysts were expecting, according to research firm FactSet.

Revenue jumped 21 per cent to USD87.4 billion, also beating expectations.

Amazon has been expanding way beyond online shopping, helping to fuel is growth.

Revenue at it’s cloud computing unit, which powers digital scrap-booking site Pinterest and many other companies, grew 34 per cent, even though it has been facing increasing competition from other big tech companies.