Amazon Poised to Benefit This Season as Inflation Fears Ease
Amazon.com Inc. spooked investors last month when it predicted the slowest holiday season growth in its history. Now there are signs—albeit tentative—that the world’s largest e-commerce company could have a somewhat merrier Christmas than anticipated.
Inflation has eased in recent weeks and, according to survey results released Sunday by Jefferies Financial Group, US consumers see prices moderating in all categories except rent and groceries. Americans continue to spend despite rising interest rates, with October retail sales increasing the most in eight months. Analysts, meanwhile, expect Amazon to hit the higher end of its fourth-quarter forecast, with revenue growing 6.7% to $146.6 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s still a slowdown from last year’s 9.4% growth but hardly a disaster.
Asked about Amazon’s holiday prospects during an earnings call in October, Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky expressed measured optimism but acknowledged that various headwinds—inflation, rising interest rates, the war in Ukraine—made prognostication unusually difficult this year. Indeed, two data tracking firms have decidedly different forecasts. Last week, Insider Intelligence said it expected online sales in November and December to rise 12% from a year earlier and faster than last year’s growth of 10.4%. Yet in October, Adobe Inc. predicted an increase of just 2.5%, a marked slowdown from its 8.6% growth tally in 2021.
The picture will become somewhat clearer following the so-called Cyber Five period that kicks off on Thanksgiving and runs through Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Though Americans have been spreading their holiday shopping over a longer period in recent years, those five days are expected to account for about a sixth of the season’s buying.
“We’ll know after Cyber Monday if shoppers are really cutting back or if they’re just waiting for big discounts,” said Dan Brownsher, chief executive officer of Channel Key, an e-commerce consulting firm with 70 clients that generate more than $100 million in combined annual revenue. “Cyber Five is the prime time, when all the deals are running and all the traffic is happening. We just don’t know yet.”