Free shipping is quickly becoming the rule instead of a bonus as online and catalog retailers seek to lure holiday shoppers. Many shoppers searching for deals now abandon Internet shopping sites as soon as they find they must pay shipping costs, analysts are finding. Some 57% of retailers are offering no-strings-attached free shipping this holiday season, up from just 25% in 2004, according to a survey from Shop.org.
The motive for retailers isn't just single sales, but winning year-round business from regular online shoppers who tend to shy away from shipping charges. "You're delighted the first time you get free shipping, but you expect it the second time," an exec at digital marketing publisher Econsultancy tells USA Today.