Check Your List Twice Today with Free Shipping Day
Deck the halls with free shipping offers and get set for an event that warms to the frugal core: Free Shipping Day, which kicked off today at midnight and runs until 11:59 p.m. EST.
If you haven't yet been clued in, Free Shipping Day is the procrastinators answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Over 1,700 merchants have banded together to offer free shipping with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve, meaning no empty stockings or disappointed giftees on Christmas morn.
To make the day even more enticing, 60 percent of participants -- more than 1,000 stores -- will have free shipping on all orders, no matter the size or dollar amount. 'Tis the season, indeed, especially for those who've been eyeing major merchants like Sierra Trading Post, American Eagle, eBags, Dell and Overstock.com.
"Where Black Friday and Cyber Monday are for the early-bird shopper, Free Shipping Day is for those who wait until the last minute," said founder Luke Knowles in a live video interview with Fox Business. "This is your last chance to shop online, get free shipping and have your order arrive in time for the big day."
Although Free Shipping Day is a fledgling event compared to it's holiday retail brethren, it has doubled in size each December since 2008. During that inaugural year, Knowles threw together offers from 250 merchants just two weeks before the event. The next year drew 750 stores, many with offers exclusive to the day. In June, Knowles optimistically predicted 1,000 merchants would register by Dec. 17. When deals went live this morning, that goal had been surpassed by more than 450 participants.
The third annual, one-day event is the final big push of a holiday shopping season that saw renewed pep in its formerly un-jolly step. For the second consecutive year, numbers from comScore show online retail outpaced modest brick-and-mortar sales, rising by 11 percent compared to this time last year. While the convenience of shopping in Rudolph pajamas (or Kris Kringle undies, whichever the case may be) accounts for some growth, modern shoppers are more adept at shopping online than ever before. According to Accenture, 69 percent of consumers will do some form of gift shopping online this holiday, up from 64 percent last year.
Despite early spending forecasts that were occasionally contradictory -- one survey warned stores would have lackluster sales, another said shoppers would keep a tight grip on their wallets -- free shipping is one of the few constants this holiday, peddled by single-person Etsy stores and giants like Amazon alike. In fact, the online trendsetter decided to extend the deadline for its free Super Saver Shipping program to (surprise, surprise) today. (I won't put words in Amazon's very influential mouth, but it'd be pretty cool to think the extension is a result of Free Shipping Day's popularity.)
No matter what sparked Amazon's change of heart, the influence of Free Shipping Day is more prominent than ever. It is being featured in media of every kind, including national outlets like CNN, CBS's "Morning Show," the New York Times, O magazine and almost 60 others across the country. Nicole Sarrubbo, a blogger for the non-profit publication ShopSmart Magazine, recommended Free Shipping Day for "all those last-minute gifts you still need," while Teresa Mears on MSN Money said "(I)f, like me, you find that every merchant is offering free shipping except the one you want to order from, you may want to wait for Free Shipping Day."
Knowles conceived of Free Shipping Day at a near-perfect time, right as merchants caught on to how frustrated their customers were with extraneous fees: After all, a t-shirt isn't a credit card to be riddled with rules and restrictions. During the interview with Fox Business, Knowles explained how unexpected shipping fees are the leading cause of "shopping cart abandonment," where consumers ditch a purchase due solely to extraneous charges. It sounds like the name of a new health condition a la Restless Leg Syndrome, but for retailers it's a serious problem.
In order to guarantee a buy, merchants commit serious time to crafting some spectacular free shipping offers, especially during the holidays. In many cases, even large businesses rely on the two-month season to account for a healthy chunk of their total profits, sometimes more than half. According to the National Retail Foundation, 85 percent of merchants promised to offer a free shipping incentive between November and Christmas this year, an increase of six percent from last year.
With more than 1,400 of those deals starting and, in many cases, ending today, now is the time to check the final names off your holiday gift-giving list. Hop over to the official Free Shipping Day website and peruse the list of merchants, either by first letter or category. Some require a code while others are extensions of previous offers, but all can be activated through the site. With that said, leave the hall decking and chestnut roasting to others and post up in the den for a while to shop and save in peace. Today will be an affordable end to the insanity of a long yuletide retail season.
Enjoy the holidays, fellow frugalistas!
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