With the ongoing recession seeming to have dampened Christmas spirits, American shoppers have opted for the comforts of shopping from home to standing in queues at departmental stores. Online retailer Amazon.com Inc said on Friday it posted its best holiday sales season yet, even as sales and traffic at US store chains were the weakest in decades.
Analysts have pointed to Amazon as a rare bright spot in this year's holiday shopping season due to its scale and flexibility, as retailers try to outdo each other with deep discounts to lure consumers during a recession.
Online sales were also helped by winter storms that hit large sections of the US on the last major shopping weekend before Christmas.
Amazon said more than 6.3 million items were ordered on its site worldwide for the peak shopping day of 15 December. More than 5.6 million items were shipped on that day and 99 per cent of goods arrived in time to meet holiday deadlines, Amazon.com said. Top-selling items included Samsung Electronics Co.'s televisions, Nintendo Co.'s Wii, Apple Inc.'s IPod touch, JK Rowling's ''The Tales of Beedle the Bard'' and Stephenie Meyer's ''Twilight'' books.
Amazon's upbeat take on the holiday season bucked the drumbeat of generally dismal news from retailers. Holiday sales typically account for 30 per cent to 50 per cent of a retailer's annual total, but rising unemployment, home foreclosures, the stock market decline and other economic worries led many shoppers to slash their shopping budgets this year.
Data released by MasterCard Inc.'s SpendingPulse unit showed total retail sales, excluding automobiles, fell over the year-earlier period by 5.5 per cent in November and 8 per cent in December through Christmas Eve.
Amazon climbed $2.01, or 3.9 per cent, to $53.45 at 9:36 a.m. in NASDAQ Stock Market composite trading. The shares fell 45 per cent this year before today.
(Also see: Apple's iTunes surpasses Wal-Mart as biggest US music seller)