The early competition to break through shoppers' caution promises savings for those willing to buy amid an economy that's still worrying many. It also will mean convenience. Retailers are offering deals anytime, anywhere their customers want.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is clearly going for the jugular. It announced Thursday that it will offer free shipping on nearly 60,000 online items through Dec. 20. Wal-Mart's free offer comes on top of aggressive free shipping programs from Target and J.C. Penney.
The intense marketing is happening in a season in which shoppers are expected to spend only a little more than last year.