Free shipping goes from perk to priority for online shoppers

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As retailers look for ways to boost holiday sales online, the practice of covering their customers shipping costs has moved from an extra bonus to par for the course. The owner of the Bibelot shops in the Twin Cities tells the Star Tribune, not offering free shipping is no longer an option.

Richfield-based Best Buy expanded its free shipping this holiday season. "We see it as a way to delight our customers," Scott Durchslag, president of Bestbuy.com, told the newspaper. "We saw an increase in order value, too."

Target, based in Minneapolis, also offers free shipping to Redcard holders and is considering whether to expand the program.

According to a survey by Shop.org, nearly 90 percent of retailers plan to offer some form of free shipping for online shoppers this holiday shopping season. Roughly a third will offer free standard shipping without conditions.

The United States Postal Service has a list of shipping deadlines to guarantee gifts will arrive by December 25.

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