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Has Amazon Prime Membership Plateaued in the US?
US Amazon Prime membership grew consistently and for many years, rapidly. CIRP first analyzed Amazon Prime membership in 2013, when we estimated Amazon had 17 million Prime members in the US. As of June 2022, our current estimate is 168 million, and we have initial indications that Amazon Prime membership may have reached its limit in the US.
The boost to online shopping during the height of the Covid pandemic supported continued growth in Amazon Prime membership last year. We estimated Amazon Prime had 172 million members in December 2021, which appears to be the peak. Since then, membership has essentially held steady at approximately 170 million members.
Please note, CIRP estimates the number of individuals with use of an Amazon Prime membership, rather than the number of paying Amazon Prime households.
Since 2017, US Amazon Prime membership increased annually, and flattened in the first half of 2022 (Chart 1).
Chart 1: US Amazon Prime Members (millions)
As of June 2022, Amazon had 168 million US members. In each of 2020 and 2021, Amazon Prime added about 30 million members in the US. In the first six months of 2022, CIRP estimates show that Amazon Prime did not add net new members in the US.
We attribute this recent trend to a few factors. Macroeconomic factors have led to tightened consumer spending and possible pressure on fixed expenses like Amazon Prime membership. While it is roughly one-tenth the size of Amazon Prime in the US, Amazon may be experiencing some competition from Walmart+, as well as other online retailers that compete in narrower markets. And perhaps most importantly, Amazon Prime membership may have reached its maximum saturation of the US market.
The addition of a monthly membership payment option in 2016 expanded the market for Amazon Prime membership, and supported growth over the ensuing five years. That broadened market may now be fully served.
Monthly pay US Prime members have steadily grown as percent of all members, surpassing 50% in 2021 (Chart 2).
Chart 2: US Prime Membership Payment Plan
This shift accelerated from 2019 to 2020, when Amazon previously raised the price of Amazon Prime. For two years, in 2020 and 2021, monthly payment remained steady. It increased somewhat more in 2022, perhaps as a response to the latest price increase, or economic factors that encouraged consumers to avoid a single large annual payment. Note on an annual basis, monthly payments cost more than the single annual cost.
We will continue to track Amazon Prime membership in the US, as we seek to determine if this recent flattening will follow one of three trajectories:
temporary, to be followed by ascent to new heights
a plateau that sustains this level over the long haul
172 million US Amazon Prime members is a true peak and the number declines.
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