MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- One of Target's biggest competitive advantages, the stores it has sprinkled across the country, accounted for a quarter of all online sales in November and December. Goods ordered online and picked up at stores surged 60 percent in that period.

Those sales, either picked up inside or through the company's curbside pickup service, are key in Target's campaign to hold online retailers like Amazon.com at bay, particularly during the competitive holiday season, because shoppers don't have to pay shipping fees.

Target Corp. said Thursday that sales at stores open at least a year increased 5.7 percent in the period, up from 3.4 percent a year earlier. The strongest growth was in toys, baby and seasonal gifts.