Check Out Target’s Big Bid for Your Online Business

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Just in time for back-to-school shopping, Target is trying to lure consumers by offering free shipping and free returns on all products – not just school supplies – purchased on its website.

But you have to act quickly, the offer is good only through Aug. 15 in the United States, excluding Hawaii and Alaska. Click here for restrictions.

According to Internet Retailer, back-to-school shopping is the second busiest time of the year for Target, just trailing the holiday shopping season. A Target spokesperson said the free shipping offer is an attempt to capitalize on the back-to-school shopping momentum.

“We know shipping costs are an important factor when it comes to shopping online, and believe this provides our guests another reason to consider Target the most compelling destination for back-to-school shopping,” he told IR.

In February, Target dropped its minimum order for free shipping from $50 to $25, $10 cheaper than Amazon. IR said that move produced near immediate results for the retailer.

Target’s free-shipping offer is great for someone like me who loves to shop at Target but has to drive at least two hours to get to one of their stores.

Back-to-school shopping can be a wallet drainer. According to the National Retail Federation, total spending on back-to-school shopping is expected to top $25 billion this year, with American families forking over an average of $630.36 on school supplies, clothing and electronics.

“As seen over the last 13 years, spending on ‘back to school’ has consistently fluctuated based on children’s needs each year, and it’s unlikely most families would need to restock and replenish apparel, electronics and supplies every year,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Parents this summer will inventory their children’s school supplies and decide what is needed and what can be reused, which just makes good budgeting sense for families with growing children.”

The NRF said the average spending on back-to-school items has jumped 42 percent in the past decade. Yikes.

Seventeen states offer sales-tax-free weekends to help take the sting out of back-to-school shopping. Click here to see if your state participates.

I have a friend with three school-age children. As Shay recommends, she collects her children’s school supplies at the end of each year and inventories them, throwing away broken crayons and dried out markers and glue, and reusing anything that is still in good shape. She said it can save her up to $100.

How much do you typically spend on back-to-school shopping? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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