Last Call for Free Shipping That’ll Arrive by Christmas. Plus: A Bonus from Sears

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Thursday, December 17, is Free Shipping Day, when hundreds of retailers (722 at last check) are offering free shipping for online purchases. And there’s also something that’s “better than free shipping.”

The site, which we’ve been tracking over the last few weeks, now breaks down the free shippers into two categories: Of the 722 participating retailers, 378 (including the Apple Store and Zappos) give free shipping with any order whatsoever, while 344 have some sort of restriction. Typically, the restriction is that you have to buy a certain dollar amount’s worth of merchandise ($15, $100, or whatever) to qualify for free shipping.

But hey, if you miss out on today, the Washington Post notes that many retailers have actually declared that orders placed on Friday, December 18, are also guaranteed to arrive in the mail by December 24.

Even better than mere free shipping is a neat offer from Sears:

Sears is touting “better than free shipping” by giving customers free shipping plus a dollar back for every item of $10 or more that is purchased. The total order must be at least $39. The retailer is also allowing orders placed online to be picked up in stores on Christmas Eve by 3 p.m.

While Fedex delivery persons and postal service carriers may dread this time of year for the aching backs and long hours they’re sure to endure, they need all the business they can get. That goes especially for the post office. Again via the WP:

The U.S. Postal Service blamed the recession for the drop-off in its holiday business this year. The post office is expected to process 16.6 billion cards, letters and packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas, down from 19 billion last year.

Seems to be an indication that people really are sending fewer Christmas cards in the mail.

Christmas Shipping: How to Beat the Rush