Amazon Expects Pandemic Habits to Stick After Profits Triple

Amazon continued to cash in on our new shop-work-relax-from-home habits in the first three months of this year, reporting a huge rise in sales and a tripling of profits.

Almost every aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic has served to spice up the tech giant’s revenues, from video streaming to grocery delivery.

It said it expects the boom to continue over the next few months.

The pandemic could herald “a golden age” for Amazon, one analyst said.

Amazon’s are the newest blow-out results from Big Tech in the week. Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google’s parent firm Alphabet have all reported big sales increases a year after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Amazon group has continued to spread its reach automated grocery stores, online healthcare services, even experimenting with a bricks-and-mortar hair and wonder salon in London.

But its core offerings: online shopping with home delivery, media streaming, and cloud-based web services all flourished during a year of upheaval for other businesses.

Revenue rose from $75bn (£54bn) this time last year to $108.5bn for the three months to the end of March.

Profit was $8.1bn, up from $2.5bn a year ago.

Chief executive Jeff Bezos highlighted the streaming service Prime Video and AWS, the web-services division, and said he was “proud to possess them within the family”.

“As Prime Video turns 10, over 175 million Prime members have streamed shows and films within the past year, and streaming hours are up quite 70% year over year,” he said.

He said AWS had grown in its first 15 years to deliver $54bn annual sales “competing against the world’s largest technology companies.”

Mr. Bezos is stepping down as chief executive this summer, though he will remain within the less hands-on role of executive chairman. He is going to be succeeded by AWS’s chief executive Andy Jassy.

Nicholas Hyett, Equity Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said Amazon’s results were “stellar” particularly given the extra costs associated with doing business during the pandemic.

“Amazon’s modus operandi has always been to pour internally generated cash into new investment opportunities wherever possible – but at present, it seems to be struggling to find homes for its embarrassment of riches,” he said.

“This might be a golden age for the group. With high streets shut, Amazon may be a natural home for consumers’ spare cash, AWS services remote working, which has suddenly become the norm, and tech wizardry is all the more useful when we can’t see friends and family in person.”

Amazon said although the pandemic was receding in some markets it expected its sales and profits to still grow, and it still expected an extra $1.5bn costs associated with Covid-19.

The firm has announced its plans to boost buy its half 1,000,000 US employees at a price of quite $1bn. The firm has faced long-running criticism over pay and dealing conditions, including claims that workers are under such a lot of pressure they cannot take toilet breaks which it had been failing to stay warehouse staff safe from coronavirus infection.

Amazon also announced a raft of measures to support employee health. It has already rolled out vaccinations to 300,000 employees and contractors in the US and “will soon expand to frontline employees in other countries”.

The group will still extend its range of shopping services and platforms, including Amazon Scout, an electric autonomous delivery system that “rolls down the sidewalk at walking pace and delivers items right to customers”. Scout is already operating in four US states.

Other recent innovations include Amazon Pharmacy, which allows Amazon Prime members to save lots of money on prescriptions, Prime Wardrobe which offers personal shopping services and finds out Rooms, which the corporate described as “an immersive shopping experience that helps customers browse and shop from thousands of home room designs”.

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