The number of free shipping offers this past week have increased quite a bit with 46% offering free shipping (either unconditional or tied only to what you spend).
I've also looked at comparing department stores to the prior year, and found that there is less free shipping this year (see end of this post).
The threshold spend for free shipping has decreased from last week (see chart below).
Some of the changes for this week (11/22 compared to 11/15):
New Free Shipping Offers This Week with conditions (most have $ threshold)
Armani Exchange - $100
J.C. Penney's $49
Best Buy - $99
Bed Bath & Beyond - $100
American Girl - unconditional
FAO Schwartz $120
Retailers with More Generous Free Shipping Offers
The Avenue - $100 to $75
Sony Style - $100 to unconditional
Staples was $50 now unconditional
Retailers with More Stingy Free Shipping Offers
Ann Taylor was $150 threshold to flat fee shipping $6
J. Crew was $150 threshold to none
PetSmart was threshold $75 now flat fee shipping $6
Several sites are using expedited delivery as a shipping promotion.
Harry & David - free express delivery Thanksgiving
Godiva - 2 day upgrade if over $60
Comparison to Prior Year
Comparing free shipping promotions of the top department stores from prior year, most have less generous free shipping offers than last year. (Note: the year ago period is Thanksgiving weekend, so that could skew results.)
The table below shows that except for Macy's, the department stores have more restrictive promotions this year than last year. (The numbers are threshold spend amounts to get free shipping.)
MERCHANTS | Yr-to-Yr | 11/22/2008 | 11/1/2008 | 11/24/2007
Saksfifthavenue | Poorer 200 150 unconditional
Nordstrom | Same 100 200 100
Neiman Marcus | Poorer 200 None unconditional
Macy's | Richer 99 None Product conditional
JCPenney.com | Poorer 49 69 25
These sites and several others are visually compared year-over-year in the presentation below.