In Bleak Season, One Online Retailer Declares Best Holiday Sales Ever, Wins Customer Service Survey

By Anthony Shields  DEC 27, 2012 3:05 PM

Amazon scores top marks in a customer satisfaction poll while other retailers are hurting over fiscal cliff worries.


MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL With so much consumer activity going on, the holidays are great for retailers, though keeping up with customer satisfaction can be a challenge. That’s why -- despite this year's relatively weak growth in holiday spending -- Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) should be happy that it took home top honors again in ForeSee’s eighth annual holiday online satisfaction survey. Each year, ForeSee determines the results from 24,000 customer surveys distributed between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The online retailer scored an 88 out of a possible 100, repeating the record-breaking score that it first managed last year and giving it the gold medal for the eighth straight year.
Putting things in perspective, several of Amazon’s major rivals actually dropped from their previous positions this year. No longer in the top five, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has dropped 4% to a score of 80. Also among the big name retailers are JC Penney (NYSE:JCP), which slid from a 83 to a 78, and Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), which fell 4% to a 77. On the other hand, some notable risers this year are Target (NYSE:TGT), which gained 3 points from a 76 to a 79, and Sony’s (NYSE:SNE) online store, which gained a massive 5 points, climbing from 74 to 79. (A chart listing the full 100 can be seen below.)
In response to its victory, representatives from Amazon announced that 2012 was its biggest holiday season ever  with more than 26.5 million items ordered worldwide on its peak day, which is also a record-breaking 306 items per second. The site also broke records for shipping, as it sent out over 15.6 million units across all product categories that same day. Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD was the most popular item for customers this year, and Amazon stated that sales on the tablets games and apps were up 250% this year.
However, despite all this good news, Amazon’s stock price is still being dragged down with the rest of the market due to overall weak holiday sales growth in America, and investors' worries about the fiscal cliff. According to an article by the New York Times, holiday related sales only rose .7% this year from October 28 to December 24, which was well below analysts' initial estimates of 3% to 4%. Last year, spending rose by 2%. Analysts blame the ongoing fiscal cliff discussion for the change -- with the talk of a major tax increase hitting the middle class this year, many people are more focused on saving their cash to prepare for a coming economic crisis. As such, the entire retail market is taking a hit as investors fear another drop-off in sales once the holiday season ends.
While the continuous growth of the e-commerce market has positioned Amazon well to survive climates such as this one, the company still must concern itself with a possible major decline in 2013 consumer spending. Like other retailers, the company is planning on continuing holiday discounts until the end of the year in order to clear out its inventory and drive up its earnings report. However, with retail being only one facet of Amazon’s business, the company must make shrewd movements in its membership plans, streaming services, and tablet services. The good news is that Amazon’s ability to satisfy its customers should keep them coming back for more, though giving good service requires continuous improvement.  

No positions in stocks mentioned.