Amazon Prime hits 50 million membership mark as competitors falter

The latest membership estimates for’s Amazon Prime service show that the e-retailer’s bid to consolidate consumer spending onto one platform has now attracted almost one in six Americans, according to independent research by Cowen & Co. In addition to signing up some 50 million Amazon Prime customers, the company expanded into car sales this week, teaming up with Fiat to sell cars in Italy.

Because Amazon doesn’t release its Prime membership numbers, third-party researchers such as Cowen & Co make estimates based on polling. Their latest research – based on a sampling of 2,500 U.S. consumers – found that membership had risen by 23 percent year-over-year (y-o-y).

Cowen & Co found that 83 percent of Prime members purchased from Amazon in October, as opposed to 49 percent of U.S. consumers without membership.

The numbers were also good news for Amazon’s grocery delivery products with the number of “Grocery and consumable” purchases at Amazon up 12 percent y-o-y. The report spelled bad news for the competition.  Wal-Mart, which ratcheted up the competition with Amazon through its $3.3 billion purchase of in August, saw the same in-kind purchases fall 2 percent. Target did only marginally better, with purchases up 1 percent.

That said, it’s still too soon to know if Walmart will be able to leverage their purchase. The latter has a growing customer base of urban and millennial customers and is adding 400,000 new shoppers monthly.

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