SEATTLE (McClatchy) — Amazon is increasing the price of annual subscriptions to its Prime membership program by 20 percent, the first increase in four years.
The program, which offers speedier delivery of purchases and other perks, will cost $119 a year in the U.S. beginning May 11, up from the $99-a-year rate available since 2014, the company disclosed Thursday on a conference call with financial analysts after reporting quarterly earnings.
For people who are already paying members, the higher rate will kick in with renewals beginning on June 16.
Amazon says its investment in goodies for the program’s members has grown.
The company is building warehouses and other logistics depots around the U.S. to speed delivery to consumers, offering same-day or one-day delivery in many markets. Shipping costs have climbed, too.
“To their credit, this isn’t the same offering it was four years ago,” said Avi Greengart, who tracks consumer technology at GlobalData. “It never possible to completely predict what consumers will do, but my sense is most prime members are unlikely to balk.”
Meanwhile, Amazon is rapidly increasing its spending to license film and television programs, and commission its own, for Amazon Prime video. Analysts with Wedbush Securities estimate that Amazon will spend $6 billion on video content in 2018.
Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos disclosed in a letter to shareholders last week that Prime had more than 100 million paying members globally. Analysts say Prime members likely spend far more on Amazon than nonmembers.