November 23, 2011, 2:05 PM

Free shipping report: 75% of top e-retailers offer free shipping this week

E-retailers pull back slightly on free shipping right before Thanksgiving.

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75 to the top 100 e-retailers listed in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide offered consumers some form of free shipping on orders this week through Wednesday. This is down from 77 retailers that offered free shipping last week.

The editors of Internet Retailer subscribe to e-retailers’ promotional e-mails and newsletters and visited each e-retail site at least once from Monday through today to determine whether and how the Top 100 e-retailers offer free shipping.

While the total number of e-retailers offering free shipping declined slightly in the days leading up to Thanksgiving a handful of retailers strengthened their free shipping offers. J.C. Penney, No. 20 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, dropped its minimum order requirement to qualify for free shipping from $69 to $25, and six top 100 retailers dropped minimum order requirements altogether. These retailers are Staples (No. 2), Office Depot (No. 5), Sony Style (No. 14), Urban Outfitters (No. 48) and Coldwater Creek (No. 93). The last retailer, Avon (No. 30), added free shipping on any order when consumers enter a coupon code publicized on the site. The cosmetics and gift e-retailer typically does not make free shipping offers that are applicable to all products. Last week, it offered free shipping on select jewelry purchases of $30 or more. It featured no free shipping offers during the first two weeks of November.

Amazon.com (No. 1) maintained its standing offer of free standard shipping for orders of $25 or more, but added a new shipping option for Amazon Prime members, who normally received two-day free shipping on all orders in return for a $79 annual fee. Amazon Prime members, at checkout, can opt to accept “free no-rush shipping” and receive their orders in about five to seven days. In return, Amazon is offering those consumers a $1 credit redeemable at its MP3 music store.  

PC Mall (No. 52) and QVC.com, a division of No. 8-ranked Liberty Media Interactive, made free shipping available for select products. Blair.com, a division of No. 79-ranked Orchard Brands, removed an offer it had featured for the last two weeks of free shipping when consumers entered a coupon code promoted on the site and this week only offered free shipping when consumers registered to receive e-mails from the e-retailer.

The retailers that offered free shipping in some form last week but dropped it during the first half of this week include Footlocker.com (No. 53), 1-800 Flowers.com (No. 45) and Fingerhut.com, a division of No. 94-ranked Bluestem Brands.

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