The state of free shipping this holiday season

February 25, 2015

When you think holiday, do you also think free shipping? Consumers value – often demand – free shipping this time of year, putting pressure on retailers to balance making the offer against maintaining profits. Free shipping offers are likely to ramp up quickly heading into the thick of the holiday shopping season: one-third of retailers surveyed expect to launch their first free holiday shipping offer sometime in November.

Consumers value more than just free shipping. More than four out of five (85 percent) of online consumers say free shipping is very important or important, just ahead of factors such as flexible return policies and an easy-to-use website But when asked to choose the most important factor in deciding to shop with a particular retailer, 35 percent said sales or discounts, and almost as many focused on aspects of the merchandise, including selection (18 percent) and quality (14 percent). Free shipping and shipping promotions were the most important consideration for only 5 percent.