During times of uncertainty, investors appreciate any upbeat news that could signal the economy is doing better than expected. To this end, Amazon (AMZN -0.34%) gave investors one key data point to add to any reasons they might have to stay optimistic.

The company said Wednesday morning that the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday represented a "record-breaking holiday shopping weekend" for the e-commerce giant. Customers purchased "hundreds of millions of products" during the period.

Amazon guided for a significant slowdown in its top-line growth in Q4 when it reported its third-quarter results in late October, and some retailers are even cutting their full-year sales outlooks. Therefore, there are many reasons investors could be skeptical about the state of the consumer today.

High inflation and surging interest rates are likely causing some consumers to tighten their holiday budgets. But it's difficult to estimate exactly how the current environment will impact total consumer spending during the period and -- ultimately -- retailers' performances.

All of this to say, Amazon's news Wednesday morning is likely a sigh of relief for investors.

Amazon's record-breaking holiday weekend

Though Amazon confirmed that the five-day shopping record generated more sales than ever, it didn't provide exact sales figures. The degree of year-over-year growth during the period, therefore, is unknown. But this doesn't mean the news isn't important.

With Amazon guiding for fourth-quarter sales to increase between 2% and 8% over the same period last year, the low end of this guidance range wasn't far from breakeven. A worse-than-expected quarter, therefore, could have easily been a period in which sales remained flat or even declined. Hearing that sales increased year over year during the important holiday weekend, therefore, bodes well for Amazon investors and, of course, retail overall.

While Amazon didn't tell investors how much sales grew, it did provide some insight into what products were hot sellers. Amazon's own Echo Dot smart speaker, streaming television-player Fire TV Stick, and Apple's AirPods were best-sellers during the weekend, Amazon said. Further, the company noted that the best-selling shopping categories were home, fashion, toys, beauty, and Amazon devices.

A challenging quarter

It was clear by October that Q4 would likely prove to be a challenging period for retailers. The days of strong double-digit growth rates during the holiday period are likely on hold -- at least for now. Amazon's guidance for 2% to 8% year-over-year growth represented a significant slowdown from the 15% growth it posted in Q3.

Adding to investors' concerns about the holiday quarter, Target (TGT -1.55%) said in its third-quarter update that its sales and profit trends weakened "meaningfully" in the last three weeks of Q3, leading management to lower its fourth-quarter outlook. Management said it now expects comparable sales to decline by a low-single-digit percentage on a year-over-year basis during the fourth quarter.

While Amazon's record-breaking holiday shopping weekend doesn't automatically translate to record results from all major retailers, it does give investors at least one reason to worry a bit less about the odds of a potentially dismal holiday season playing out. Perhaps even Target's deteriorating sales trends at the end of Q3 will prove to be the worst of the company's headwinds as the fourth quarter rolls around.

We'll see if Amazon's news this week is truly good news for overall retail when retailers start reporting their fourth-quarter results early next year.