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Retailers expect more last-minute holiday shopping

Washington D.C. - Many Americans will wait until the last minute to finish their holiday shopping this year - just as they did in 2010 and 2011, when the average person still had half of her shopping list to complete as of mid-December.

This was one of many findings in Shop.org's 2012 eHoliday Study, which was conducted by BigInsight and polled 2,988 consumers from Sept. 26 to Oct. 11 and 40 online retailers from Sept. 25 to Oct. 11.

In response to consumers' delayed shopping, retailers are planning a plethora of shipping deals well through the final shopping days of the holiday season, the survey found: 45.7% said they will end standard shipping promotions by Dec. 17, while only 5.7% will stretch it to Dec 21.

"Even after weeks of record-level online traffic to their sites, retailers are well aware that millions of their customers will still shop at the very last minute, regardless of how early they may have started their shopping this year," said Shop.org executive director Vicki Cantrell. "For some procrastinators, express and standard free shipping offers could be the deciding factor in whether or not they purchase something. In anticipation, retailers will save some of the best deals of the year for the final stretch to reel in the countless last minute holiday shoppers we see each year."

Last-minute shoppers may have to hunt for free or expedited shipping offers to guarantee Christmas delivery, Shop.org warned. While 43.3% of retailers surveyed will offer free expedited shipping through Dec. 20 or 21, 36.7% said they will not offer expedited free shipping offers at all this year. Just 13.3% of companies' free expedited shipping promotions will run to Dec. 22.

The survey found 89.7% will provide a free shipping offer at some point during the season, and 35.0% of consumers said they specifically choose to shop online because of free shipping.

"Once shipping deadlines start passing, shoppers will look to retailers not only for deals and promotions, but also for services such as same-day delivery and buy online and pick up in store," said Pam Goodfellow, BigInsight consumer insights director.

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