NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Cyber Monday for Amazon ( AMZN) is a lot like, well, Christmas morning.

The Internet retailer has topped lists of the most-visited Web sites on Cyber Monday since 2006. But as competition heats up, will Amazon lose its coveted spot at the top?

So far, it appears it is the e-commerce winners. The Internet retailer is outpacing most of its peers, with a 28% surge in traffic to its U.S. Web site so far this holiday season.

"Amazon's hybrid model is helping it gain share of the overall retail spending and total e-commerce sales, still benefiting from secular growth with less than 10% of retail sales online," Susquehanna Financial analyst Marianne Wolk wrote in a note.

Shares of Amazon hit a 52-week high in early morning trading of $181.84.


Overall, e-commerce saw a 9% uptick on Black Friday, compared with a 7% jump forecast by Susquehanna Financial.

Amazon rival eBay ( EBAY) noted that its PayPal unit saw a 27% increase in total payment volume on Black Friday this year compared with 2009.

Shoppers are increasingly turning to the Internet to troll for the best prices. To satiate consumers' cravings for discounts, online retailers have been rolling out offers since early November, most notably with free shipping.

So far, the number of shoppers who made purchases online this weekend rose 15.2%, according to the National Retail Federation, to 33.6%, which is a strong sign heading into Cyber Monday shopping today.

Cyber Monday is expected to draw 106.9 million shoppers, up significantly from 96.5 million in 2009, according to a survey conducted by Shop.org.

Susquehanna Financial also upped its forecast for e-commerce over the entire holiday season to 12% growth from 10%.

Indeed, the free shipping wars have created a media buzz -- and have raised a red flag regarding Amazon's dominance in the space.

Wal-Mart ( WMT) posed the biggest threat to Amazon when it announced that it would provide free shipping on about 60,000 items, with no minimum purchase required. Amazon retaliated by saying it would match or beat shipping offers from rivals, and also will provide free 30-day returns for select items.

Other traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are also becoming more aggressive online. GSI Commerce ( GSCI) recently launched ShopRunner, which enables large retailers like Toys 'R' Us to use its infrastructure to compete with Amazon Prime and its free shipping service.

Apple ( AAPL) continues to rival Amazon in the media sector, especially in the e-reader space. Following the success of the iPad, and Barnes & Noble's ( BKS) investment in its own e-reader device, Amazon was forced to lower its price on its Kindle in order to remain relevant. Google ( GOOG) is also expected to launch a tablet that could compete with the Kindle, later in the quarter.

For Amazon, the holiday season is expected to represent about 35% of its total EBITDA, according to Susquehanna Financial, making the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially significant.

From Monday through Wednesday shares of Amazon grew 7.4% to end Wednesday afternoon trading at $177.25, in anticipation of strong holiday sales. Citi analyst Mark Mahaney reiterated his buy rating on the stock and his $190 price target, citing in a note surveys and reports that suggest Amazon will outperform.

And when it comes to toys, Mahaney says Amazon is leading the pack. Compared with Wal-Mart and Target, Amazon is offering all of the items of Toy Insider's "Hot 20 Toys" list for the lowest prices, when shipping costs are included.

Amazon's Kindle is also forecast to be a must-have this holiday season. Mahaney cites a survey of 1,800 consumers that found that 12% expect to buy the Kindle or another dedicated e-reader device. As a result, Mahaney now believes his estimate of 8 million Kindles to be sold in 2011 could be too low.

In October, ChannelAdvisor said same-store sales at Amazon's marketplace surged 54%, which Mahaney says suggests the rate could accelerate in the first quarter of 2011.

Currently, 22 analysts have buy ratings on Amazon, 13 say to hold, while one deems it underperform, and two say to sell.

Overall, comScore predicts e-commerce spending will grow by 11% this holiday shopping season to $32.4 billion. But Janney Capital Markets analyst Shawn Milne said in a report that it is worth noting that Amazon's North America revenue has grown on average between 25 to 40 points more than comScore's total numbers over the past five quarters.

--Written by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jeanine Poggi.

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--Written by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jeanine Poggi.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/jpoggi.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

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