Amazon posted results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2020, that exceeded all expectations. Revenue jumped 37%, to $69.1 billion, and net income soared from $3.2 billion to $6.2 billion. Among its business lines, the company reported that sales in its online stores increased 27%, to $48.3 billion, and sales by third party sellers jumped 53% over last year’s third quarter, to $20.4 billion.
Retailers of all types have been encouraging customers to shop early and Amazon said that does seem to be happening. “We’re seeing more customers than ever shopping early for their holiday gifts, which is just one of the signs that this is going to be an unprecedented holiday season,” CEO Jeff Bezos said in prepared remarks. Amazon kicked off its holiday shopping season with the October 13-14 Prime Day, during which sales by third party sellers topped $3.5 billion, a 60% increase over 2019.
The pandemic has caused most public companies to avoid making financial forecasts, but Amazon predicted that sales in the fourth quarter will rise between 28% to 38%, which would put revenue between $112 billion to $121 billion. The company is not expecting much improvement in earnings, however, saying operating income is expected to fall between $1 billion to $4 billion; in 2019’s fourth quarter, operating income was $3.9 billion. Amazon said it expects to incur $4 billion in Covid-19–related costs in the quarter.