Amazon (AMZN -0.01%) could use some good news. The company's growth is slowing. It's generating negative free cash flow. The stock has plunged close to 45% year to date.

But the latest data from advertising technology company Captify about online searches on Black Friday wasn't what Amazon needed. Could it even be a yellow flag for Amazon stock in December?

Consumers were searching elsewhere

Last year, Amazon ranked No. 1 in Captify's list of the most-searched retailers on Black Friday. However, the e-commerce giant didn't retain its leading position based on online searches tracked by the adtech company this past Friday morning.

Walmart replaced Amazon at the top. Online searches for the huge discount retailer skyrocketed 386% year over year.

So did Amazon slip into second place in Captify's latest Black Friday ranking? Nope. That honor belongs to Target. Amazon didn't claim third place, either; Kohl's snagged the spot.

Surprisingly, Amazon tumbled to No. 4 on the list of the most-searched retailers this time around. That's a steep decline for the world's top e-commerce company. 

Based on Captify's data, more consumers are searching elsewhere for holiday bargains. And that could mean that Amazon's sales could be negatively impacted during the year's peak retail selling season.

Some context

It's important to put the Captify rankings in context. Just because Amazon's online searches didn't place as highly this year doesn't mean the company's sales will necessarily suffer.

Actually, this year's overall Black Friday sales appear to have been higher than ever. Adobe Analytics' holiday shopping trends data showed total retail revenue of $9.12 billion last Friday, a 2.3% year-over-year increase.

Shopify's numbers also pointed to strong consumer demand. The company's merchants set an all-time Black Friday record with combined sales of $3.36 billion. This reflected a 17% increase year over year. 

Even this context needs some context, though. Because of high inflation this year, the numbers reported by Adobe Analytics and Shopify aren't as impressive as they would otherwise be.

Amazon got an early start to the holiday season this year with its Amazon Prime Early Access sales event in October. CFO Brian Olsavsky said in the third-quarter conference call that Amazon was "ready to have a really good holiday season." On the other hand, he also acknowledged that management wasn't "quite sure how strong holiday spending will be versus last year."  

Too soon to worry

We don't have any clear signs of how strong or weak Amazon's Black Friday sales were. The company hasn't commented publicly so far. It's possible that Captify's online search data hints at disappointing results. If there's confirmation that this is the case, look for Amazon stock to continue its decline.

However, it's too soon for investors to worry. Amazon's shares have trended upward overall in recent days, despite the overall market sell-off on Monday due to concerns about China's latest COVID-19 surge. 

Also, expectations are already pretty low for Amazon's Q4. The company's guidance projected net sales growth of between 2% and 8% year over year. This range reflects a big negative impact (460 basis points) from foreign exchange rates.

If there are any hints that Amazon could beat its Q4 outlook, the stock could rise in December instead of fall. The biggest variable of all is what happens with the overall stock market. If there's a Santa Claus rally later this month or positive macroeconomic news before then, Amazon's shares will likely move higher. 

Sooner or later, Amazon will receive good news, and its stock will rebound. Any yellow flags over the short term should give way to green flags over the long term. Investors looking at the big picture should seriously consider backing up the truck and loading up on the beaten-down stock.