As the holiday shopping season approaches, Americans are beginning to consider what their shopping experience will look like this year. Given the continuation of the pandemic, will online shopping reign as the method of choice? And how important is free shipping? 

CivicScience asked more than 5,000 U.S. adults about their feelings regarding free shipping, and perhaps unsurprisingly, 95% of respondents indicated that it is, in fact, important.

As the data show, free shipping is important regardless of income, suggesting that it may be less about financial resources and more about the principle. 

The importance of free shipping is especially strong for those shopping online for gifts this year. However, it’s worth noting that free shipping is almost equally as important for those who will not be holiday shopping at all. This further indicates that the concept of free shipping carries weight, regardless of how much online shopping one plans to do. 

One of the differentiating factors in terms of free shipping is age, with younger adults being more flexible with the benefit when shopping online.

In fact, they are some of the more likely shoppers to have paid extra for shipping in the past two weeks, as are those who are concerned about being in public spaces.

So while free shipping may be seen as the ultimate convenience, for some, paying for shipping may be worth the price. 

Shipping Delays in Question 

Generally speaking, U.S. adults are of two minds when it comes to concerns over shipping delays. While 46% are concerned, 54% are not. So while this isn’t necessarily an even split, clearly potential delays are on the minds of many.

People of all ages show concern, although it leans older (35+) and tends to be among parents.

Those most concerned about shipping delays are twice as likely as those not concerned to have recently paid extra for shipping.

And those who are most concerned about shipping delays have already started their holiday shopping, possibly through early Black Friday deals, and report spending more now as a result of the pandemic.

Favorability + Concern By Store 

Those who are most concerned over shipping delays are favorable to Amazon, Target, and Walmart in that order. While Amazon and Target favorability are both in the 60% range, Walmart favorability for those most concerned about shipping delays lags more than 20 percentage points behind. 

All of this to say that it is clear who U.S. adults may put their trust in when it comes to getting items shipped and delivered quickly this holiday season. 

In 2020, free shipping remains the name of the game. While some Americans–namely those who are younger or concerned about being in public–are willing to spend more on shipping costs, the vast majority prioritize free shipping as part of their online shopping experience. 

And with a pandemic still at large, concerns over shipping delays will definitely make free-shipping advocates a little less stringent.