Free Shipping Will Be More Expensive This Holiday Season

There’s no such thing as free shipping. What looks like free shipping from a shopper’s perspective is only subsidized shipping, and those subsidies come from shoppers. They could come in the form of higher prices, or higher spending thresholds to earn free shipping. This year, free shipping will cost you a little more.

The Wall Street Journal explains this brave new world, pointing out that the average retailer now requires you to spend $82 in order to get free shipping. At this time last year, the average among the same retailers was only $75.

Amazon, always at the forefront of free shipping, has raised the price of its all-you-can-shop Prime membership from $79 to $99 the next time most subscribers renew. Newegg has introduced its own subscription-based program since last holiday season.

Last year, Amazon raised its minimum for free “Super Saver” shipping to $35, and other companies are following that example. Best Buy raised their minimum to $35 from $25.

Clothing retailers have even higher limits: J. Crew, for example, sets theirs at $150, and Ann Taylor at $175. On the lower end, Kohl’s requires that you spend $75, and JCPenney set a minimum of $99.

Retailers once used free shipping to attract customers to shop online in the first place, and now use it to entice us to buy more, or to choose one retailer over another. Would you rather pay $5 for shipping, or spend $5 more to put you over the free shipping threshold? Online retailers have found that people are more likely to do the latter, which is why they’re raising limits.

Free Shipping Is Going to Cost You More [Wall Street Journal]

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