Amazon's Christmas sales soar

THERE are further signs that shoppers are shunning the high street as the world's biggest online retailer reported soaring Christmas sales.

THERE are further signs that shoppers are shunning the high street as the world's biggest online retailer reported soaring Christmas sales.

Seattle-based Amazon said international sales, which includes the UK, jumped 20% to £5.8bn in its fourth quarter and demand for its own-brand tablet computer – the Kindle Fire – took its total revenues for the crucial holiday quarter up 22% to £13.5bn.

The strong sales performance will heap further pressure on the group over its tax affairs. Amazon public policy director Andrew Cecil was hauled before MPs, along with executives from coffee chain Starbucks and internet giant Google, in November to explain how their companies manage to pay little or no corporation tax on their UK operations.

Net income at the group was 45% lower at £61.6m, pushed down by investment in the group’s distribution network and its Kindle business in the three months to December 31.

The group said its best-selling item was its Kindle Fire, which has a touch-screen and can stream films from the internet.

It also said its selection of TV shows, songs, magazines, books and audiobooks and popular apps had risen from 19 million in 2011 to 23 million in 2012.

Revenues, along with guidance for the current quarter, missed Wall Street’s expectations, but investors still sent the world’s top online retailer’s stock up more than 10% in after-hours trading.

“It boggles the mind,” said Colin Gillis of BGC Financial, who attributed the stock price jump to stronger-than- expected operating income.

“A lot of people scratch their head at the valuation given to Amazon and the support the stock has.”

The strong performance comes as January trading updates and official figures have already shown that retailers with a strong internet offering had the strongest Christmas.

 
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