Mark your calendars for Dec. 17, the 2012 date for Free Shipping Day. This popular one-day holiday allows consumers to shop from hundreds of online merchants on FreeShippingDay.com with delivery by Christmas Eve.
"For the first time in our five-year history, we've scheduled Free Shipping Day for a Monday, positioning it to compete with Cyber Monday's online sales," said event founder Luke Knowles. "Monday's historically are the heaviest online-shopping day during the holiday season."
Knowles and his bare-bones staff created the first Free Shipping Day in 2008, based on the success of their year-round coupon website FreeShipping.org.
"We knew merchants would appreciate the opportunity to extend the online holiday shopping season," said Knowles, "and procrastinating consumers would love being able to shop online without having to fight the crowds in brick-and-mortar stores."
Sales from last-year's event topped $1 billion for the 2,600 participating merchants, making Free Shipping Day the highest-earning Friday in retail history, according to comScore. In 2010, the holiday beat out Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday in online sales, with a total of $942 million.
Cabela's, Lands' End, Eddie Bauer and Harry & David are among the thousands of merchants that participated in last year's event.
Despite its brief history, Free Shipping Day has become a media favorite with mentions in such trend-setting outlets as The New York Times, Woman's Day, "O" magazine, FOX News and dozens more. Hundreds of regional publications and broadcasts have also leapt on the bandwagon, with media attention expanding every year.
The success of the event is primarily due to the fact that free shipping has nearly become an absolute requirement in the eyes of shoppers. Research has shown 90 percent of consumers spend more when offered free shipping, while nearly half abandon their online shopping carts when such offers aren't available. In fact, a study released earlier this year by Listrak showed December 16, 2011 -- the date of last year's Free Shipping Day -- had the lowest rate of shopping cart abandonment during the last six months of 2011.