Free Shipping Offers Lead To More Online Holiday Spending

    December 17, 2008

Online holiday shopping continues to be on par with last year, with spending through December 14, totaling $20.17 billion, according to comScore.

For the first fourteen days beginning December 1 (Cyber Monday), sales totaled $9 billion, up 2 percent compared to a year ago. The most recent week saw ecommerce sales slipping 2 percent.

"It appears that the spending surge we saw immediately following Thanksgiving has given way to more moderate buying during the most recent week," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

"The current week will be particularly crucial to the overall performance of the season, as we expect to see heavy spending during the final days of online buying that qualify for guaranteed delivery by Christmas."

With free shipping becoming a more important incentive for online shoppers, comScore examined the effect of free shipping on online consumer behavior. The results revealed a correlation between consumer’s use of free shipping and both dollars spent per order and the overall growth in online spending compared to last year.

 Retailers offered a slew of free shipping deals during the weeks of Thanksgiving and then the following week, which included Cyber Monday deals. Each week saw average order values increase significantly and positive spending growth versus a year ago. When retailers cut back on free shipping deals during the most recent week average order values dropped and the week saw negative growth compared to a year ago.


Free Shipping Offers Lead To More Online Holiday Spending

"Over the past few years, free shipping has emerged as a critically important incentive for online shoppers, and its importance has been magnified in the current retail environment," added Fulgoni.

"The most recent week has shown retailers that now is not the time to pull back on the offers that are successfully persuading consumers to spend. Fortunately, the final full week of online holiday shopping will feature an array of attractive free shipping deals, including the industry’s promotion of Friday, December 18 as ‘free shipping day’, the final day for consumers to place their orders with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve. Consumers will hopefully respond by once again opening their wallets to help this challenging season end on a high note."