December 16, 2010, 2:13 PM

Neiman Marcus ups the free holiday shipping ante

And J. Crew isn’t being quite as generous with its free shipping offer.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Lead Photo

High-end department store chain Neiman Marcus either feels especially in the giving spirit this holiday season or it wants to capture sales from competitors such as Nordstrom Inc. and Saks Direct.

The retailer, No. 41 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is offering free returns, free gift wrap and free three-day shipping to all online customers. Shoppers enter NMHURRY at checkout to nab the expedited shipping. The offer expires at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Dec. 23. The deal is offered on its e-commerce site home page so anyone can take advantage of it, not just shoppers on the retailer’s e-mail lists.

While is it is not offering free returns, Neiman Marcus competitor Saks Direct is offering free shipping on all orders to all customers. Shoppers can order until 3 p.m. Eastern time on Dec. 23 for free delivery by Christmas Eve. A read of the fine print shows shoppers can send returns on their own and pay for them, return an item to a Saks store, or use the prepaid USPS Return Label included in each package to send back a purchase and have $9.50 deducted from their refund.

Nordstrom.com is offering free standard shipping with purchases of $100 or more. Their shipping freebie ends Dec. 20 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern.  Barneys New York Inc. meanwhile, is offering free standard shipping on every order. The retailer could not be reached to confirm what date the promotion ends.

Of the luxury apparel retailers offering free shipping this holiday season, one of the least generous has been J. Crew. It requires a minimum purchase of $150 to qualify for free shipping and the offer ends Dec. 17 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern.

The retailer’s high minimum purchase requirement has come under fire from its Facebook fans. Several shoppers have posted on J. Crew’s fan page that the retailer is being stingy. “I think hell will freeze over and pigs will fly the day J. Crew offers free shipping on EVERY ORDER.... isn't that a standard holiday offer in retail?? Please get with it,” one fan wrote. J. Crew did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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