Amazon CEO Jassy Says US Shoppers Are Still Bargain-Hunting

(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy said buying behavior was still muted as shoppers looked for deals during the Thanksgiving weekend.

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“Consumers are spending, but they’re being careful about trying to stretch their dollar,” Jassy said Wednesday at the New York Times DealBook conference. The company is still assessing how buyers are reacting to the current environment, he said.

Amazon initially predicted a slow holiday season as inflation and rising rates hurt consumer sentiment. But fears of rising prices eased in recent weeks, pointing to a better-than-expected holiday season.

Deal-hunting was most pronounced for big-ticket discretionary items such as televisions and computers, Jassy said. “People care a lot about getting a bargain right now,” he said.

US shoppers ended up spending $11.3 billion online on Cyber Monday across retailers, according to Adobe Inc. This was up 5.8% from 2021, when supply-chain snarls prompted people to shop earlier and retailers to skimp on discounts.

Amazon has been criticized for selling a book and film promoted by basketball star Kyrie Irving and widely decried as antisemetic. The Anti-Defamation League asked Amazon executives last week to remove the title after it appeared on the site’s bestseller list. Jassy said the company is considering adding a content warning to the book but said outright removal would lead to a “slippery slope.”

Like other technology executives, Jassy has been reducing expenses as growth slows in several areas of Amazon’s business. Job cuts that began earlier this month are expected to reach 10,000, and Jassy has said they will last into 2023. The segment responsible for Alexa-powered devices has been particularly hard-hit.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Amazon’s cloud services arm expects to keep expanding and hiring next year.

Jassy said he doesn’t regret rapidly expanding capacity through the pandemic boom by building new warehouses and accelerating hiring, even if the company is now undergoing cuts. “We knew we might be overbuilding,” he said.

Tech layoffs were a consistent topic during the conference. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen earlier said that the sector was being impacted by “some special factors” such as slowing ad revenue and a post-pandemic slowdown.

(Updated with Jassy comments on content warning, cost-cutting)

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