What happened

Shares of Amazon.com (AMZN -1.86%) jumped 3.3% on Friday after retail sales unexpectedly climbed in September. 

So what

Sales rose 0.7% sequentially and 13.9% year over year. Analysts had forecast a sequential decline of 0.2%.

Concerns had been mounting that stubbornly high COVID-19 case counts, the end of enhanced unemployment benefits, and supply chain bottlenecks would conspire to weaken the retail industry's recovery. But consumers proved surprisingly resilient, and retailers weathered their supply chain challenges better than Wall Street expected.

People are using their mobile devices while sitting next to shopping bags.

The American consumer is alive and well. Image source: Getty Images.

As the largest e-commerce company and second-biggest retailer (by sales) in the U.S., Amazon stands to benefit from these sales trends as it enters the all-important holiday shopping season.

Now what

The good news supports a recent wave of optimism toward Amazon's near-term prospects. J.P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth believes the online retail giant's stock is poised to rally over 20% to $4,100 in the year ahead, fueled in part by an Amazon Prime price increase that could boost its profits by as much as 15%. 

Cowen analyst John Blackledge is likewise bullish on Amazon's shares. He thinks the stock could surge to $4,300, driven in part by younger consumers' affinity for its brand. Cowen's survey of millennial shoppers and those from their succeeding demographic, Generation Z, showed that Amazon "is now the top location for consumers to begin a product search, to research a product prior to an online or in-store purchase, and the leading platform to complete the purchase," according to Blackledge.

Together, Prime's pricing power and Amazon's leading position among younger consumers should help to drive the e-commerce titan's earnings -- and, by extension, its share price -- higher in the coming years.