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Holiday gift for us: free shipping

More merchants expected to offer deals for delivery.

By Teresa Mears Oct 21, 2009 4:08PM

Here’s good news for online shoppers this holiday season: More retailers are expected to offer free shipping to capture your business.


Merchants are offering free shipping because they know it catches shoppers' attention, The Wall Street Journal reported, and in a year when stores are competing for shoppers, that’s important.


"Free is very exciting," Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, told The Journal. "Free shipping is not just another discount."


In an experiment, Ariely found that people were four to five times as likely to spend $5 for an item if either the shipping or the item were free as they were to pay $2.50 for the same product plus $2.50 for shipping.


A survey by PayPal found that 46% of shoppers listed high shipping charges as the reason they left potential purchases in online shopping carts, The Journal reported.

Start watching for free shipping deals now, but more are likely to start popping up around Thanksgiving.


Target is launching its holiday free-shipping promotion Nov. 1, two weeks earlier than last year, and applying it to twice as many items, The Journal reported, and Wal-Mart is using free shipping in its holiday fight with


Don’t expect merchants to make it easy to find their free shipping offers. Just as you always do, you’ll have to ferret out coupon codes for free shipping, special deals for regular customers and limited-time offers. More than ever, it’s important to search for “free shipping” and the store name before you order anything online. Don’t forget online coupons, either.


One of the sites that collects free shipping deals is For the second year, the Web site will organize a “Free Shipping Day” on the last day to order for Christmas delivery, which will be Dec. 17 this year.


Last year more than 250 merchants participated in Free Shipping Day, and Luke Knowles, founder of, expects twice as many participants this year. So far, participating merchants include Toys R Us, Babies R Us, FAO Schwartz, eToys, Baby Universe and Crate & Barrel.


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