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Amazon's Strong Sales Bucks Trend

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Online retailer thrives amidst slowdown

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As data pours in from the holiday shopping season, stories of tight purse strings and a general rejection of the extravagant abound.

But bucking the trend, Amazon.com (AMZN) reported strong sales and record buying activity. The world's biggest online retailer called the otherwise bleak environment it's "best ever." Still, online sales are expected to slow from the previous year for the first time ever.

On December 15, according to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon's customers snapped up items at a clip of nearly 73 per second, or 6.3 million for the day. That's the busiest the site has ever been.

Leading the record-breaking sales were Nintendo's (NTDOY) Wii video game consul, Samsung's 52-inch HD television and Apple's (AAPL) 8-gigabyte iPod Touch. In addition, Acer Inc.'s Aspire One netbook attracted buyers looking for cheap access to the Internet. The tiny laptop, with a screen that measures just 8.9 inches, sells for less than $500.

Amazon's strong results are in sharp contrast to most brick-and-mortar retailers, which rang up weak sales despite aggressive discounting. Consumers, hunting for bargains and reticent to brave harsh winter weather across much of the country, shunned malls, preferring instead to shop from the comfort of home.

The site's relative success is evidence that, even during recession, the cream of the corporate crop can still thrive. Economic activity doesn't grind to a halt just because Apocalyptic headlines seem to be without end.

Instead, downturns weed out the weak hands, building a stronger foundation for future growth.

No positions in stocks mentioned.

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