A new report indicates that almost half of U.S. households have Amazon Prime memberships. Meanwhile, a separate report indicates that non-members are waiting longer than ever to have their packages delivered.

The report by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners indicates that the number of Amazon Prime memberships shot up 35 percent last year to a total of 54 million. Considering that it is unlikely for one household to have more than one Prime membership that means 46 percent, or almost half, of the households in the U.S., now belong to Amazon Prime. Almost half of that growth came during the holiday season, while the rest was spread out throughout the year.

Prime members, in addition to receiving free two-day shipping and highly discounted one-day shipping on many items, also receive various other perks. The company's Prime Video service allows customers to stream a slew of original content along with other movies and TV series, while Prime Music offers audio streaming ability.

Prime members can also borrow e-books via the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, and store photos in the cloud using the Amazon Photos service. A membership in Amazon Prime costs $99 a year, although the company occasionally cuts the price during promotions for new members.

Prime members spend almost double the amount per year than non-members do. The average Prime household accounts for approximately $1,100 in purchases while non-members spend about $600. Non-Prime members are also waiting longer to receive their items according to a separate report from StellaService, which tracks online retailers' customer service performance.

"For a long time, Amazon has been the leader when it comes to fulfillment. There are 40 companies on our list, and Amazon has always been in the top 10. This year, we've seen them fall outside of the top 10, which is the first time we've seen that happen," says Kevon Hills, vice president of research for StellaService.

Hills attributes that to both Amazon's focus on Prime, as well as other competing retailers such as best Buy and Apple shortening their delivery windows, making Amazon's time relatively slower. Some observers have also questioned whether Amazon's slowdown is a ploy to induce customers to join Prime, but there is currently no hard evidence to support that theory.

Photo:  Zach Copley | Flickr

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