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Stores, Amazon go head-to-head for holidays

AP

This holiday shopping season in America, it’s Amazon versus everyone else.

The online giant has attracted customers away from the likes of Wal-Mart and Best Buy with low prices and convenient shipping. Now physical stores are fighting back as the contest for customers heats up during the busiest shopping period of the year.

Stores are doing things like matching the lower prices on Amazon and offering the same discounts in stores as on their websites.

For its part, Amazon is giving customers the option to pick up items at physical locations and adding Sunday delivery.

There is a lot at stake for both sides. Amazon wants to increase its business globally. Brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling to keep shoppers from using their stores as showrooms to check items before buying them cheaper on Amazon.

One of Amazon’s biggest advantages is its low prices. It can charge less because it doesn’t have the high costs of running physical locations.

Last year, some retailers offered to match the lower prices that customers find on websites like Amazon during the holiday season. And this year, more have made this a policy heading into the holiday season.

Stores’ physical locations may cost more, but a growing number are using them to their advantage.

Best Buy is among the retailers using their locations as distribution hubs from which they can ship goods that customers’ order directly to their homes. Wal-Mart, for one, said items ordered online and shipped from stores usually are delivered in two days or less — quicker than having items shipped from warehouses across the country.

But Amazon is widening its distribution network to offer speedier delivery. For even faster service, it has partnered with the U.S. Post Office to deliver some packages on Sunday.