Amazon packages travel along a conveyor belt at a fulfillment centre in Robbinsville, New Jersey, the US. Picture: REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON
Amazon packages travel along a conveyor belt at a fulfillment centre in Robbinsville, New Jersey, the US. Picture: REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON

Amazon.com reported a big increase in sales and gave a bullish forecast, continuing a streak of rapid growth even as vaccine rollouts raised the prospect of a return to pre-pandemic shopping habits in the US.

First-quarter revenue jumped 44% to $108.5bn, exceeding analysts’ estimates. Earnings were $15.79 a share, also better than Wall Street expected.

Sales will be between $110bn and $116bn in the quarter ending in June, the Seattle-based company said on Thursday in a statement. Analysts, on average, estimated sales of $108.4bn, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Amazon has been among the biggest beneficiaries of the coronavirus pandemic, as crowd-averse shoppers rushed online. Earlier in April, CEO Jeff Bezos said the company had 200-million Prime subscribers, compared with 150-million at the start of 2020. But with the vaccine rollout well under way in the US, Amazon’s largest market, investors have been scrutinising data for signs that consumers will start spending more money at physical stores, eating out and traveling.

The shares rose about 3% in extended trading. The stock has gained about 45% in the last 12 months.

Amazon earlier in April defeated a union drive to organise a fulfillment centre in Bessemer, Alabama, but the hard-fought tussle amplified the perception that it treats hourly workers unfairly. Bezos, who will become executive chair later in 2021 and hand the reins to AWS chief Andy Jassy, alluded to the union battle in his last letter to shareholders as CEO. Highlighting Amazon’s 2-1 victory, he nonetheless pledged to treat workers better.

On Wednesday, the company said it would spend $1bn to boost hourly wages by between 50c and $3 for more than 500,000 US workers. Amazon currently offers a starting wage of $15 an hour, or more than twice the federal minimum.

Bloomberg News. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

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