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Check out what sites are offering free shipping this holiday season. — Corbis

No chimney for Santa and his free delivery of presents? No problem. This holiday season, about nine in 10 online retailers will again offer some form of free shipping to shoppers, reports the National Retail Federation.

And this year you can expect the offers to begin earlier. Many started as early as Halloween, in fact.

They'll culminate on Dec. 17, when shoppers using the website FreeShippingDay.com to order from about 2,000 retailers will pay nothing for merchandise transport, with a promise of delivery before Christmas.

Last year, nearly $500 million in sales were made on Free Shipping Day.

Shoppers may also get special discounts, which last year knocked 30 percent or more off the prices of some retailers.

"Merchants will be promoting their offers on their own websites, but at FreeShippingDay.com everything is at one place to make your comparison shopping easier," says website founder Luke Knowles.

And don't forget that there are many free shipping offers at other times of the year. For a rundown, visit FreeShipping.org.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer issues.

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