Best Buy joins the shipping wars and will offer free next-day delivery on orders more than $35 and free standard shipping with no minimum during the holidays. Still, only 15% of consumers prioritize fast shipping over free shipping, according to Deloitte’s new holiday survey.

Consumer electronics retail chain Best Buy Co. Inc. on Tuesday announced that it will now offer free next-day delivery for thousands of products purchased online with a $35 minimum purchase during the holiday season.

This is the first time Best Buy has offered free next-day delivery ever. A Best Buy spokesman declined to say what percent of its online products will have this service available and how this will impact the profitability of orders. The retailer will use both its stores and warehouses to fulfill these orders.

“We want to help our customers get their orders even faster, especially in time for the holiday shopping season,” the spokesman says.

The retailer also announced it will offer free standard shipping with no minimum purchase threshold now through Christmas Day. The retailer also offered this promotion during the 2018 holiday season.

Best Buy is joining a growing number of large retail chains that are speeding up their delivery times, including Amazon.com Inc., which offers one-day delivery for its paid Prime loyalty members; Walmart Inc., which says it plans to offer next-day delivery to 75% of the U.S. by the end of 2019; and Target Corp., which offers same-day delivery for either a per-order fee or via the $99-per-year Shipt service.

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In addition to Best Buy’s online shipping features, in-store pickup is a key part of Best Buy’s ecommerce strategy. 40% of its online sales are picked up in its stores, and 80% of those orders are ready for pickup in 30 minutes or less, chief supply chain officer Rob Bass said in its most recent earnings report according to a SeekingAlpha transcript.

Those results dovetail with data Internet Retailer published in its 2019 Omnichannel Report. Internet Retailer researchers gave Best Buy top marks for excellent quality of the online pickup experience in store and having the store pickup take less than one minute from the time the shopper entered the line to the time she had the product in her hand. Best Buy is No. 13 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 500.

Holiday shoppers look online for gifts and research

While retailers are touting their fast shipping initiatives, consumers still prioritize free shipping over the holiday season, according to consulting firm Deloitte’s 2019 holiday retail survey released on Tuesday. The study surveyed 4,410 U.S. consumers in September.

The study found that 85% of consumers said free shipping is more important than fast shipping, which was defined at two days or less. Of the 85% of consumers who said free shipping is more important, 41% said they are willing to wait five-seven days, and 27% said they are willing to wait three to four days.

Consumers plan to spend $511 on gifts this year, with $129 of that allocated toward gift cards. The majority of that spending will take place online, as consumers plan to spend 59% of their holiday budget online and only 36% in store, compared with 57% online in 2018 and 55% in 2017. The percentages don’t add up to 100% because other retail channels, such as catalog, are not included.

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In fact, 78% of consumers said their total holiday spending will be the same or more than last year, even though only 41% of consumers said their household finances are better than last year. In the 2018 Deloitte consumer survey, the same percentage, 78% of consumers, said they spend the same or more on holiday gifts, yet 43% said their household finances were better than the previous year.

What’s more, 44% of consumers expect the economy to weaken either significantly or modestly in 2020, which is the highest percent of consumers indicating this in the past decade in Deloitte’s survey. Only 34% of consumers said they expect the economy to improve in 2020, and 22% said they expect the economy to remain the same.

Earlier this year, Deloitte estimated that online sales will grow 14-18% for the 2019 holiday season, which it defines as online sales from November-January, and reach $144-149 billion, up from $126.4 billion during the 2018 holiday season, according to Deloitte’s estimates.

In the consumer survey, 64% of consumers said they plan to shop at online retailers this year, up from 47% in 2015. Plus, 65% of consumers said they will research their holiday purchases on retailers’ ecommerce sites, the most popular answer. Search engines were second at 58% and retail stores third at 52%.

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Of consumers that use a smartphone, 70% of them plan to make a holiday purchase via the device, up from 67% in 2018, and 59% in 2017.

Deloitte also predicts that holiday shopping will peak later this year near the start of December, because Thanksgiving is later this year, making Black Friday Nov. 29 and Cyber Monday Dec. 2.

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