A statement from Amazon’s CFO in a post-earnings call shows just how important the Indian festival of Diwali is to the firm’s international sales

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  • Amazon reported a 29% rise in total sales and an eleven-fold surge in profit for the quarter ended September.
  • However, international sales growth slowed to 13% compared to 29% in the year-ago period and 27% in the previous quarter.
  • On a post-earnings call, Amazon’s CFO, Brian T. Olsavsky, pointed out that the reason for this had to do with the timing of Diwali, an Indian festival characterised by bumper retail sales.
Amazon released its results for the June-September period yesterday. The quarter was a solid one for the global e-commerce giant. Total sales rose by 29% to $56.6 billion while the firm’s net profit rose more than 11 times to $2.9 billion owing to the strength of its cloud service operations.

However, there was one chink in Amazon’s polished armour: international sales growth. Sales in markets outside the US grew at a paltry 13% to $15.5 billion, compared to a growth of almost 30% in the year-ago period and 27% in the previous quarter.

Speaking on a post-earnings call, Amazon’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Brian T. Olsavsky, was quick to point out that the reason for this had to do with the timing of Diwali, an Indian festival characterised by bumper retail sales of electronic appliances, smartphones and other items.

Olsavsky explained that half of Amazon’s Diwali sales last year took place in Q3, while this year all Diwali sales would fall into Q4. The date for the festival, which is determined by the Hindu lunar calendar and is usually between mid-October and mid-November, shifted to November 7th this year from October 19th last year.

He expects a significant bump in Q4 international sales as a result of this, especially since the e-commerce giant has already seen a 60% growth in new customers so far during the sales period, which started earlier this month. The second leg of the Diwali sale commenced on 24 October and ends on 28 October. He added that orders had already come from 99% of the PIN codes all over India.

Olsavsky’s statement is indicative of the importance of the Indian market to Amazon’s global sales growth. The firm has already earmarked $5 billion worth of investments in the country as it locks horn with Walmart-owned Flipkart for the top spot in India’s online retail market.
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