Amazon offers US customers free holiday shipping to compete with Target

Amazon's warehouse in Fall River Massachusetts.                  Ben Fox Rubin  CNET

Amazon's warehouse in Fall River Massachusetts. Ben Fox Rubin CNET

But this is not for two-day shipping. Even though over half of all USA households now have Prime memberships, Amazon would undoubtedly like to convert even more consumers to paid subscribers.

Even so, the program could get expensive for the company. Available exclusively to Amazon Prime members, Prime Wardrobe allows members to have their favourite fashion products delivered for no extra cost, try them on at home, and only pay for the items they decide to keep. Amazon spent more than $7 billion on shipping in the fourth quarter past year, before subtracting the shipping fees it collects from customers. That would be more than 12 percent of the $71.8 billion in sales that analysts now expect the company to report for the quarter.

Amazon has reportedly narrowed down its new headquarters search to three cities: Northern Virginia's Crystal City, Dallas and New York City.

While this is certainly a move by Amazon to compete with Target and Walmart, it doesn't match their offers.

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Amazon's announcement comes as its retail competitors, perhaps having read research indicating that consumers put a high premium on receiving invoices that don't include a price for shipping, have made their own bids for end-of-year business by taking that off the table.

Some customers were already seeing the option on Sunday evening.

Bottom line: Buy one of over 100 million items you want on Amazon and get free shipping without having to spend $25 now up until Christmas.

In addition, Amazon said the number of items available for free same-day delivery to Prime members now tops 3 million. In both cases, the advantage over Amazon was no paid subscription required to qualify for free shipping. A spokeswoman said it is the first time Amazon has dropped its minimum order size to qualify for free standard shipping - which generally takes between five and eight days - to zero.

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