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Amazon packages with Prime tape are seen at an Amazon fulfillment center
Reuters/Pascal Rossignol
‘Tis the season for free one-day shipping apparently.
PRIME TIME

Amazon says more than 5 million people signed up for Prime in one week this holiday season

By Marc Bain

From our Obsession

Big Tech

Looking at Big Tech as the next Big Oil.

It’s been a happy holiday for Amazon.

The e-commerce giant said the season broke records as it sold billions of items globally. And its Prime subscription program reached new highs. According to Amazon, in just one week it had more than 5 million customers start a free trial of Prime or begin a paid membership.

Prime is in many ways the heart of Amazon’s business. Since the company first introduced the program in 2005, offering free two-day shipping on eligible items, it has continued adding perks, such as access to its growing library of TV shows and movies and all the deals of its annual shopping event, Prime Day. It’s Amazon’s way of keeping its best customers loyal and shopping, while the bundle of benefits draws still more paying members.

Last year, Amazon revealed it had surpassed 100 million subscribers globally, even as it kept raising the price of Prime, bumping it to $119 a year in 2018. Though a presumably sizable portion of the holiday signups trialing the program won’t convert into paying subscriptions, having 5 million customers join Prime in one week is no small feat.

Prime subscribers also seemed happy to put one of the program’s newest benefits to use. Amazon recently made free one-day shipping standard for Prime. It says this holiday, the number of items it delivered to Prime shoppers requesting free one-day or same-day delivery quadrupled compared to the same period last year. It’s likely to hit Amazon’s earnings for the period, but then Amazon has never been one to prioritize profit over growth.

So what sorts of things was Amazon shipping most? Big sellers on Amazon this holiday season included the “LOL Surprise! Glitter Globe Doll Winter Disco Series with Glitter Hair,” the ever-popular Instant Pot, and makeup by Haus Laboratories, the Lady Gaga beauty line launched on Amazon earlier this year.

In fashion, popular brands included Carhartt, Champion, Adidas, and Amazon Essentials—one of the many private labels Amazon has introduced. As has been the case at many other retailers, animal prints such as leopard were in demand, as was cold-weather gear. One piece of outerwear Amazon said sold well was the Orolay down jacket, otherwise known as the “Amazon coat.” Made by a Chinese manufacturer and sold to Americans on Amazon, the inexpensive puffer became seemingly ubiquitous in parts of New York last year. While it may be past its prime in that city, according to Amazon, shoppers are still buying it.