RealTime IT News

Amazon Found Joy This Holiday Season

Procrastinating customers paid off for Amazon.com this year, as last-minute shoppers pushed the online retailer to a record holiday sales season and helped the company achieve its single biggest day ever.

The Seattle-based online retailer said it booked a single-day record when shoppers ordered more than 2.8 million items worldwide, the equivalent of 32 items every second, on its busiest day between Nov. 25 and Dec. 23. Amazon did not disclose which was the biggest sales day or provide numbers for the entire season.

The company said it extended the standard shipping deadline this year by two days from Dec. 18 to Dec. 20, providing customers with more leeway when scrambling for those last-minute orders.

Apple products helped pave the way for the big season with three of its offerings -- the 20GB iPod, 4GB Mini iPod and prepaid iTunes card -- making Amazon's hot list in the electronic products category. In fact, consumer electronics were a huge boost, beating out book and CD sales on the Web site for the first time. Comedian Jon Stewart's America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction topped the book list.

Amazon also claimed great success fulfilling customers' orders, with 99 percent of them shipped in time to meet holiday deadlines worldwide.

The news of the robust sales boosted its stock about 8 percent to $42.27, up from $38.93.

"We are extremely grateful to our customers," Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive officer of Amazon.com, said in a statement.

Amazon wasn't the only grateful company for a good holiday season. Online sales on the whole reached $13.5 billion in the days running up to Christmas, a 28 percent increase from last year, according to comScore Networks.

In addition to online sales numbers booming, relatively new businesses like satellite radio hit their stride.

Just two days after Christmas, SIRIUS Satellite Radio announced it had surpassed a year-end target of one million subscribers. SIRIUS credited sharp holiday sales for the boost it needed to meet its target.

Meanwhile, SIRIUS's chief competitor, XM Satellite Radio , announced it also reached its year-end goal of 3.1 million subscribers, in part because of the holiday sales spike.

Washington, D.C.-based XM and New York-based Sirius offer 100 channels of digital audio entertainment for a monthly fee.