• Q1 profit soars 68% to $299m
  • Net sales jumped 46% to $7.13bn
  • Sales boosted by Zappos.com

Strong online sales over Christmas and a first contribution from shoe retailer Zappos.com have helped Amazon.com Inc to a 68% jump in first quarter profit.

The Seattle based shopping giant said a "heads-down focus on customers" led to a net income of $299m or $0.66 per share in the quarter, up from $177m or $0.41 per share in the same period last year.

Net sales in the three months to 31 March jumped 46% to $7.13bn, compared with $4.89bn last time.

Excluding a $185m gain from foreign exchange rates, net sales would have grown 42% the company said. 

Highlights include a 47% jump in sales in the US and Canada to $3.78bn, and a 45% rise to $3.35bn in international business in the UK, Germany, Japan, France and China.

Although Amazon doesn't report its clothing and footwear sales separately, the quarter is the first to benefit from its $850m purchase last year of online shoe retailer Zappos.com.

Results were also helped by a new standalone UK website called Javari.co.uk which selling shoes and handbags and was launched last October in a bid to boost the retailer's share of the online fashion, footwear and accessories market.

Growth has also been boosted by Amazon's Marketplace, which lets third-party merchants like Eddie Bauer set up shop on Amazon and other retail sites.

The retailer said worldwide sales of electronics and other general merchandise - which includes clothing and footwear - grew 72% to $3.51bn.

Looking ahead, second quarter sales are seen rising by 31% to 44% compared with a year ago, at between $6.1bn and $6.7bn.

Operating income could be up by as much as 102% to $320m it said.