Amazon.com was the clear beneficiary.
The online retailer is expected to report a 25 percent increase in fourth-quarter sales to $44.7 billion, according to the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. The company reports earnings after the bell Thursday. Earnings per share likely jumped to $1.35 from $1, thanks to rising profit at the cloud computing business Amazon Web Services (AWS).
"Based on largely tepid holiday results elsewhere in retail, we think that AMZN captured an outsized amount of share," wrote Edward Yruma, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, in a report on Jan. 29. "It will continue to take market share and also benefit as total share accorded to e-commerce continues to grow."
Yruma recommends buying the shares and has a $905 price target on Amazon, 9.9 percent above the stock's closing price on Tuesday.
The transition from offline to online is nothing new. It's the story of Amazon, starting with books in the 1990s and moving to almost every other segment of retail since then.