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Holiday shipping

Free Shipping on the Rise During Holidays

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With competition fierce among merchants in this still-recovering economy, more online customers expect free shipping during the holiday season — and more retailers are giving it to them.

“Consumers value – often demand – free shipping this time of year,” Fiona Swerdlow, head of research at NRF’s division, wrote in a recent blog post. “Retailers should think about how free shipping augments merchandise selection and quality to tip the scales so the customer completes the purchase.”’s annual holiday study found that 85 percent of online shoppers rate free shipping as an important factor in deciding where to buy, placing it ahead of flexible return policies or even an easy-to-use website.

Retailers have heard the message, with 47 percent saying they would increase free shipping offers during this year’s holiday season. In addition, 13 percent said they would lower the minimum purchase required for free shipping, and 9 percent said they would increase offers for free shipping on returned merchandise.

Crowd Management Guidelines Offer Holiday Checklist
With stores swamped more than any other time of the year during the holiday season, NRF has updated its handbook on crowd management.

“Crowd control is top-of-mind for retail loss prevention and security associates every day of the year, but the excitement among shoppers during the holidays presents new challenges,” says NRF vice president for loss prevention Rich Mellor. “It’s a time of year when retailers’ advanced planning and security protocols to protect stores, customers and employees are paramount.”

The 20-page “Effective Crowd Management” guide offers recommendations on how to handle events that are under a retailer’s control like a major sale, release of a new product or a celebrity appearance, along with uncontrolled situations like emergencies, flash mobs or nearby protests or special events. Advice is offered on training, staffing and utilizing store layout and merchandise placement to control traffic flow.
The guidelines are available at management.