The holiday shopping rush is quickly drawing to a close. With little over a week left until Christmas, many people are feeling pinched to cross the final presents off their lists.
'Tis the season for procrastinators and prepared gift-givers alike to rejoice over the final online shopping push of the holidays: Free Shipping Day, which began at midnight today and runs through 11:59 p.m. EST.
The 24-hour event features nearly 1,500 merchants from the farthest reaches of the web, including perennial Christmas favorites like Macy's, Barnes & Noble, Lands' End, Sears and the Apple Store. Every merchant further sweetens free delivery offers with guaranteed arrival by Christmas Eve, meaning your gifts will be under the tree before Santa Clause begins making his rounds.
"We designed Free Shipping Day for procrastinating shoppers," said founder Luke Knowles in an Oct. 8 interview with Fox Business news. "Where Black Friday and Cyber Monday are for the early-bird shopper, Free Shipping Day is for those who wait until the last minute. This is your last chance to shop online, get free shipping and have your order arrive in time for the big day."
The last-minute nature of Free Shipping Day is surprisingly in line with modern consumer habits. The Internet has only strengthened the trend towards shopping in the waning hours of the yuletide season. According to 2009 numbers from comScore, the three days following Dec. 14 each raked in over $800 million dollars. This year is looking to be even more lucrative, with Accenture reporting 69 percent of people will use the web to shop -- an increase of five percent over last year. Cyber Monday alone surpassed the $1 billion mark, the largest dollar amount ever recorded for a single day of online retail.
Knowles conceived of Free Shipping Day in 2008, just two weeks before the inaugural event. Despite the late start, he cobbled together offers from over 250 online stores. Three years later, that number has increased nearly fivefold, surpassing the original 2010 goal of 1,000 participating merchants by over 450 stores. In many ways, the first Free Shipping Day predicted the rise of what has become the most sought-after incentive for shoppers and merchants alike: Free shipping. Spurred by consumer demand this holiday season, 85 percent of merchants promised to offer some sort of free shipping deal, according to the National Retail Foundation.
"We've reached a point where consumers are expecting free shipping when they shop online, but in many cases it's offered when you purchase a certain amount, such as $50 or $100,” Knowles said in the Free Shipping Day blog. “To make Free Shipping Day even more unique, we're encouraging retailers to offer free shipping on all orders.”
The event began at midnight and continues until 11:59 p.m. EST. Although it pains us to say it, none of the offers require a coupon or promo code. Simply hop over to the official Free Shipping Day website to browse a full list of participating merchants, click on the most appealing offer, and take advantage of your final opportunity to spread holiday cheer.