scorecardAmazon's Prime membership program stopped growing in the US for the first time ever
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Amazon's Prime membership program stopped growing in the US for the first time ever

Eugene Kim   

Amazon's Prime membership program stopped growing in the US for the first time ever
Tech2 min read
  • Amazon's Prime membership may have even fallen last year, according to new estimates by CIRP.
  • Prime's penetration rate in the US is showing signs of slowing, too.

Amazon's all-important US Prime membership program has ground to a halt, new data shows, at a time when the online retailer is struggling with a broader slowdown.

Amazon ended last year with 168 million Prime members in the US, down from 170 million at the end of 2021, according to new estimates from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

That's the first time ever that the company generated no annual Prime growth in its largest market, according to CIRP. The research firm tracks the number of individuals using Amazon Prime, rather than total paying households. When it began tracking Prime in 2013 there were 17 million members, according to the firm's data.

"Prime membership has essentially stopped growing in the US, after many years of extremely fast growth, and then modest growth in the last two or three years," CIRP said.

CIRP also estimated that, as of December 2022, Prime members accounted for 73% of all Amazon transactions in the US, up from the previous year's 66% penetration rate. It hovered around 60% in 2018 and 2019, CIRP noted.

"That, coupled with the flattening of Prime membership growth suggests that Amazon is not attracting as many non-Prime members as in the past," the CIRP report said.

This is particularly notable because Amazon has been spending heavily on video streaming deals, including The Rings of Power and Thursday Night Football, to try to attract new Prime subscribers. CIRP's estimates suggest that these huge investments are not paying off, at least for now.

The pandemic-driven shift to online shopping significantly expanded Amazon's business during the early years of COVID-19. But as more people went back to in-person shopping and the broader economic climate suffered, Amazon saw deceleration across the board. The giant retailer is now in a major cost-cutting mode, resulting in the largest layoffs in company history.

Amazon doesn't publicly disclose the exact size of its Prime membership program. In 2021, Amazon's then-CEO Jeff Bezos said it had "more than 200 million Prime members worldwide." The subscription has for years powered increased spending by the company's customers, helping Amazon grow into the largest e-commerce company in the Western world.

"Just because an analyst firm reports something doesn't make it true or fact, and in this case, the research is not accurate," an Amazon spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement. "Prime membership continues to grow as the value members receive continues to increase."

The spokesperson didn't say whether they were talking about US memberships, or global numbers. CIRP's new estimates refer to the US only. When Insider asked Amazon for US data on Prime, the spokesperson said this: "We don't offer country-specific breakouts of Prime membership quantities, but I can tell you that there are more than 200 million paid Prime members worldwide."

Amazon Prime may be aware of the potential saturation in the US, and appears to be looking for growth in overseas markets instead. In late 2021, Amazon moved the Prime program under Russell Grandinetti, SVP of its international business, indicating a greater focus on non-US regions, as Insider previously reported.

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