Target Corp. is offering for the first time free holiday shipping on all items, including even $6 lipsticks, as the discounter throws itself in the ring to compete better with the likes of Amazon.
The Minneapolis-based chain said its free shipping offer will last through Dec. 20. The move is unusually early for a retailer — coming weeks before the official holiday season kickoff over the Thanksgiving weekend — and could squeeze Target's profit margins. But the strategy underscores how retailers are willing to do whatever it takes to grab shoppers in the holiday shopping season, which accounts for about 20 percent of the retail industry's total sales
"We know shipping costs play a big role in online purchasing decisions .... We believe our free shipping offer will create excitement and incremental sales for Target," said Kathee Tesija, Target's executive vice president and chief merchandising officer.
The incentive comes four months after Target unveiled a permanent free shipping offer for those spending at least $50 online, a strategy the company said has had strong reception.
Target, along with other big-box stores, is trying to woo back customers increasingly researching and buying on their smartphones and tablets. It's also grappling with a still slowly recovering economy.
Target's online sales increased 30 percent in the latest quarter ended Aug. 2, though analysts estimate it only represents less than 2 percent of total sales.