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What Amazon's Holiday Report Reveals About Our Weird Shopping Habits

We sure do love Gummi Bears, and Cards Against Humanity is an urgent purchase.

[Photo: Flickr user David Goehring]

It wouldn't be the holiday season without revealing year-end press releases from major corporations, especially retailers. The king of online retail, Amazon, just issued a 3,000-word report of holiday shopping, watching, and listening stats that says a lot about us. Much of the data comes from users of Amazon Prime, the $99-per-year subscription service that provides free and discounted deliveries, plus access to Amazon's video and music collections. Amazon picked up more than 3 million Prime members in the third week of December alone. (An estimate from June already had Prime at about 40 million subscribers.)

Some of Amazon's findings seem like desperate attempts make data relatable. For example: "Amazon.com customers purchased enough LEGOs this holiday season to build life-sized replicas of every person attending a sold-out Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field." That's 59,084 Lego people, by the way, presumably at the average height and weight of Seattle dwellers.

Other findings reveal our urges. Top Prime Now deliveries, which come within two hours, include Simply Orange Juice, Bounty paper towels, and Haribo Gold-Bears (the original Gummi Bears). That represents both ends of the nutrition spectrum; maybe kids hopped up on Gummi Bears spilled a lot of orange juice. Meanwhile, Cards Against Humanity was one of the top items for free same-day delivery, so we may not give much forethought to keeping guests entertained.

The champion procrastinator lives in San Antonio, Texas. Their order—including Blue Buffalo Dog Treats, Fruitables Dog Treats, and Stove Top Stuffing Mix—arrived at 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve, possibly later than Santa Clause would have made it. What a sad Christmas dinner—at least for the human; the dog seems to have made out better.

Despite how high-tech Amazon customers are, musical tastes are rather retro, at least this time of year. Among people using Amazon Echo—its voice-activated, AI-driven appliance—the three top holiday songs were "White Christmas," "Sleigh Ride," and "Winter Wonderland." Perry Como's "Home for the Holidays" (recorded in 1959) was the top holiday song streamed on Prime Music. The same goes for Amazon video, even binge-watching: On the Fire TV set-top box, the top video title was an 8-pack called Christmas Classics Volume 1, which includes Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.

Retro nostalgia carries over to photography, too. The Fujifilm INSTAX Mini Instant Film Twin Pack was the top-selling photo item. Yes, people still buy film. The second and third items, though, were more high-tech: the GoPro Hero4 Silver action cam and AmazonBasics Head Strap Camera Mount for GoPro.

Electronics purchases weren't as grandiose as one might expect. Yes, Amazon sold a lot of 50-inch TVs—enough to span the average width of the Grand Canyon, it reports. But the top-selling screens were two 32-inch sets and one 40-inch model (all smart TVs) from Samsung and TCL.

Sci-fi and romance reign among Kindle owners, at least those who don't pay for their books. The top gifted title was Rath's Deception, Iraq-war veteran Piers Platt's tale of interplanetary assassins. The top borrowed title was No Ordinary Billionaire, about an heir who becomes a cop and finds tortured love. (From the description: "As burning desires awaken within Sarah, her haunted past returns, threatening her once again. Can Dante overcome his grief and unravel the secrets Sarah is hiding in time to protect and rescue her?")

Seeing what people chose to buy on Amazon is so interesting because people can purchase just about anything, it seems. That includes the heaviest item sold this holiday season: a BendPak Super-Duty automotive lift, which, according to Amazon, weighs as much as the "average beluga whale."

Related: I Lived With The Amazon Dash Button—Here's What I Discovered

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