Amazon Reports Its Best-Ever Holiday Shipping Season

For Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN), the 2013 holiday season has been one for the record books. As more consumers turned to the web to get their holiday shopping done, Amazon announced today, Dec. 26, that its Prime memberships reached an all-time high this holiday season.  More than one million customers around the world signed up for the service in the third week of December alone. Overall, Amazon.com shipped enough items with Prime this holiday to deliver at least one gift to every household in America.

"Amazon Prime membership continues to grow, and we now have tens of millions of members worldwide. They benefit from all-you-can-eat free two-day shipping on millions of eligible items and our members have a voracious appetite," said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, in a statement. "We are extremely grateful to our customers around the world and wish everyone the very best for the coming year."

Amazon said that due to the surge in membership signups, the company had to temporarily limit new members from joining during peak periods to ensure service to current members was not impacted by the demand.

With the promise of free delivery by Christmas Day, Amazon customers shopped right up to the last minute—literally and figuratively.  Amazon said the last Prime One-Day Shipping order that was delivered in time for Christmas was placed on Dec. 23 at 10:22 p.m. PST. The last Local Express Delivery order was 12:26 p.m. PST on Christmas Eve and delivered at 3:56 p.m. PST that same day.

While most customers who shopped in time for Christmas Day received their deliveries on time, not all online shoppers were so fortunate. Failures in UPS's transportation network and an avalanche of orders caused some packages to be delayed.  Amazon said today that it will offer customers $20 gift cards and refunds on shipping charges if their packages were not delivered by Christmas.

In addition to stronger-than-ever Prime membership signups, the company also reported that on Cyber Monday, 36.8 million items were ordered worldwide, which is a record-breaking 426 items per second.

For more see:
-This Amazon press release
-This Bloomberg article

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