'Free Shipping Day' Is Today, Dec. 18
Now in its fifth year, the day and site, created by FreeShipping.org founder Luke Knowles, is meant to inform last-minute online holiday shoppers where to get their orders in so they are delivered by Christmas Eve on Dec. 24 -- without being penalized with high shipping prices.
This year, 930 stores are participating in the day's event, which is roughly 40% lower than in 2012.
That's because the #FreeShippingDay founders wanted to improve user experience this year by making sure stores were truly offering free shipping. This year, retailers that participate in the day must waive all minimum order thresholds as well as guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve.
"This is not something every store is willing to do and so some opted not to participate. We knew it was a risk to make requirements [stricter], however we're focusing more heavily on user experience and we know shoppers want real free shipping," said spokeswoman Kendal Perez.
Requiring stores to offer "real" free shipping, means some retailers, like Amazon
So does the day still have significance? Free shipping has become this year's retail commodity, and could mean the day won't see the more than $1 billion in sales it saw last year.
Even stores that traditionally stayed away from mass merchant promos like Bloomingdale's is offering free shipping until Dec. 21, Gough added.
Holiday online spending (desktop only) for the first 39 days through Dec. 9 totaled $31.5 billion, up 9% year over year, according to comScore. Cyber Monday, which fell on Dec. 2 this year, brought in $1.7 billion, the top online spending day for the month. e Bay
"Even if there are fewer [store] participants this year, many consumers are trying to get their online holiday shopping done this week to ensure packages arrive in time for Christmas," said Andrew Lipsman, comScore's vice president of marketing and insights. "Given the shorter holiday season this year (26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas vs. 32 last year), the pressure is on for consumers to get their shopping done so this week -- and particularly Free Shipping Day -- should see some aggressive last-minute buying."