December 5, 2008, 12:00 AM

Some e-retailers sweeten free-shipping offers, while others cut back

Overstock.com extended free-shipping to cover all products at any price other than books, music, movies, games, gift cards and auctioned items, while Neiman Marcus covered all orders through Dec. 3 and Talbots all orders placed as late as Dec. 23.

Overstock.com extended its free-shipping offer this week to cover all products at any price other than books, music, movies, games, gift cards and auctioned items, while Neiman Marcus went from a minimum $200 order to offer free shipping on all orders through Dec. 3 and Talbots covered all orders placed as late as Dec. 23. A total of 66 of the top 100 online retailers offered free shipping this week, down from 72 last week, according to a survey by Internet Retailer.

Overstock launched its extended free-shipping offer on Dec. 5. In prior weeks, it offered free shipping only on select items or on purchases made with the Overstock private-label credit card.

Several other retailers also sweetened their free-shipping deals this week. Hewlett-Packard Co.’s HPShopping.com offered free shipping on all orders for ink, toner and paper and on all orders of $59.99 or more. Dell began offering free second-day shipping on computers in addition to free shipping on all printer orders of $39 or more and all electronics and accessories orders of $129 or more.

Sears.com introduced free shipping on all orders of $75 or more through Dec. 6, down from last week’s minimum order of $99. The Home Depot introduced free shipping on orders of $149 or more through Dec. 14, lowering last week’s minimum order of $299.

The TV channel dot-coms also hopped on the free-shipping bandwagon this week. QVC.com offered free shipping on a daily special, while rival HSN.com offered it on select items.

Talbots, which last week offered free shipping with no minimum purchase through Dec. 1 to addresses within the U.S. and Canada, extended it this week through Dec. 23. It says it will accept orders as late as 2 p.m. Eastern time on Dec. 23 for delivery on Dec. 24 anywhere in the continental U.S. for no charge. Canadian customers must order by midnight, Dec. 8, for delivery on Dec. 24.

JR.com, which offers free shipping on select items, provides a free-shipping button that takes shoppers to a page that, on Dec. 5, listed 3,559 products eligible for free shipping.

Among the retailers no longer displaying last week`s free-shipping offers were Victoria`s Secret, REI, NetShops, Restoration Hardware and American Girl. EBags.com modified its free-shipping offer to cover all orders of $75 or more, compared to $50 or more last week.

The survey compiled the number of free-shipping offers presented on the web sites of the top 100 online retailers as listed in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, 2008 Edition. It did not include all free-shipping offers that may have appeared only outside of the web sites, such as in e-mail marketing campaigns.

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