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Amazon Thrives During the Holiday Shopping Season

Speaking of bright spots in a dismal economy, Amazon.com reported its sales were the “best ever,” during a grim holiday shopping season that saw most retailers reporting sluggish sales. Amazon reported that on its peak day, Dec. 15, it received more than 6.3 million orders, at a record pace of 72.9 items per second, according to the Wall Street Journal.

How did Amazon – the world’s largest internet retailer – do it? From the Journal, here are the toys and gadgets consumers most wanted:

Amazon said top-sellers from Nov. 15 through Dec. 19 included Nintendo Co.’s Wii, which dominated the videogame category. Among toys, the best-sellers included Jakks Pacific Inc.’s Eyeclops night-vision goggles. In the electronics category, Samsung Electronics Inc.’s 52-inch LCD High-Definition television and Apple Inc.’s 8-gigabyte iPod Touch led the gains.

Also a strong seller was Acer Inc.’s Aspire One 8.9-inch netbook. The devices, which have little processing power, screens between nine and 12 inches wide diagonally and typically cost less than $500, have been rising in popularity, according to technology-research firm iSupply.

Among DVDs, Amazon said “Wall-E,” “The Dark Knight” for Blu-ray and “The Dark Knight” sold well. Top sellers in books included “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” by J.K. Rowling, and two works by Stephenie Meyer, “Eclipse” and “Breaking Dawn.”

Some, if not all, of these things could have been purchased elsewhere, however. It’s not entirely clear to me why Amazon did so well. But because it’s so huge, Amazon had lots of free shipping offers. If you didn’t have to go out to the store to buy something because Amazon could send it to your house for free, that might have been a deciding factor.

Maybe free shipping rather than trendy electronic toys really made the difference.

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