UPDATE: Target Corp. said Oct. 29 it will indeed be offering free no-miniumum shipping from Nov. 1 to Dec. 25. Last year the retailer offered free holiday shipping without minimums Oct. 22 to Dec. 20.
Deal-tracker site BestBlackFriday.com had earlier noted that a leaked holiday catalog from the retailer shows the holiday free shipping policy on any order of any size (except for some oversized items) will enjoy free shipping to the lower 48 states. Target usually has a $25 minimum for free shipping.
Other, though not all, retailers are also shifting their shipping policies for the holidays. Best Buy, which normally has a $35 minimum order threshold for free shipping, also recently announced free shipping on all orders placed between Oct. 25 and Jan. 2. UPDATE: Toys 'R Us cut its minimum from $49 to $19. Wal-Mart, though, says its $50 minimum will stay in place even during the holidays.
Free shipping will likely again be a way for retailers to beat back Amazon’s (and Best Buy’s) advantage in securing holiday sales.
With free shipping motivating online orders, retailers like Target with stores can also entice shoppers with door-buster deals, an advantage that Amazon, notably, doesn’t have.
"It's a slippery slope," Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru told CNBC last year, noting that, even then, free shipping costs $3 to $6 per order. But Target “doesn't want to lose any more market share to the online channel.”
Yet the moves this year come as shipping has become even more expensive for retailers, with FedEx and UPS instituting higher fuel charges and dimensional as well as weight-based pricing. So those little orders, like one lipstick, don’t enjoy the same low price they once did.
Still, look for other retailers, except, apparently, Wal-Mart, to also respond, with little choice except to lose market share to retailers that do.