Free Shipping… Not For Long…

A couple years ago, I predicted that “free shipping” would disappear.  Not for lack of demand, increased fuel costs, or the recession.  I predicted it would become so popular, everyone would demand it.  And retailers would go for it.

So if retailers offer it all the time (and nearly half of all transactions from last year involved free shipping), at what point is it considered a “standard service” versus a free promotion?  The cost must go somewhere? Am I paying less for the same product?  
I’m also curious to know if my kids will ever pay for shipping as an added fee on an online invoice. No corded phone, no turning the TV channel using a knob, no heavy text books. They probably won’t know what “free shipping” was by the time they enter the workforce.
Here are a few stats about shipping from FreeShipping.org:
  1. 61% of consumers will likely cancel their entire purchase if free shipping isn’t offered. (Comscore, May 2011)
  2. 49% of transactions in 2010 included free shipping. (Comscore, May 2011)
  3. 23% increase in traffic for retailers offering free shipping promotions. (Comscore, May 2011)
  4. Transactions including free shipping rose from 45.6% in 2009 to 55.1% in 2010. (Comscore, May 2011)
  5. 57.5% of merchants offered free shipping without conditions during the 2010 holiday season. (Comscore, May 2011)
Much of what I’ve read indicates consumer spending this holiday season will outpace last year, despite the dreadful August we just endured.  Most will look for free shipping, and many retailers will go for it.  But not for long, I suspect.  I think the entire concept disappears within 3 years…  The upside is that if it doesn’t, it will still not cost me anything.  I think?

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