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Amazon Accounts for Half of Holiday E-Commerce Growth

Maybe NORAD should start tracking Amazon deliveries instead of Santa and his reindeer next year.

After walking away with up to 50 percent of all online sales during Black Friday, Amazon reportedly had its “biggest holiday season” ever in 2017.

This holiday was expected to be the first in which online sales eclipsed in store purchases, and though final numbers have yet to be released from many sources, Mastercard SpendingPulse reported e-commerce was up 18.1% from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24. Of that increase, GBH Insights estimates Amazon captured 45 to 50 percent, up from 38 percent of new sales last year.

The retailer’s dominance is fueled by the estimated 88 million people who have a Prime membership, which promises free shipping and a host of other perks. Despite questions surrounding whether or not Amazon can sustain the growth rate for Prime, these benefits proved so attractive that 4 million more people signed up or started free trials during the holidays alone. In total, GBH said Prime spending was up 22 percent during the holidays. And Amazon said the number of packages shipped via free one-day, same-day or Prime Now more than doubled.

The Amazon app also proved enticing with usage up 70% during the holidays.

Amazon fulfillment peaked on Dec. 19 with more than a million packages shipped in one day. The company received more than 1,400 orders for electronics every second during the period.

Throughout the season, the retailer had promised last-minute shoppers delivery right up until Christmas, and it reported the last Prime Now delivery made it to its destination at 11:58 pm on Christmas Eve in Baltimore, Md.

The retailer kept up with demand thanks to a 30-percent increase in square footage in its fulfillment and shipping network worldwide.

Products like the Instant Pot DUO80, WowWee Fingerlings Interactive Baby Monkey and Fitbit charge 2 led their respective categories. In apparel, the best selling item in the U.S. was Asics Men’s GEL Venture 5 running shoes, followed by Alex and Ani initial bangles, Levi’s Men’s 505 regular fit jeans and Ugg women’s classic short II boot.

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The company said it sold enough shoes that if they were lined up end to end, they’d stretch from Alaska to Miami. Shoppers bought enough Calvin Klein goods to outfit every Coachella 2017 attendee with five items.

Alexa was a welcome guest in many homes during the holidays. The Echo Dot was the company’s best selling Amazon Device. The virtual assistant was called upon to help revelers figure out how to mix tens of thousands of cocktails, tell tens of millions of jokes and turn holiday lights on and off millions of times. It was also used to stream holiday music, play favorite movies like Elf and call home to mom.