Shipping and handling. Those three words are enough to give any online bargain hunter a nervous, queasy feeling. After all, high shipping costs (suspiciously high, in some cases) can turn a good deal into a bad one faster than you can ask "What exactly is handling?"

Recognizing this fear, more than 2,000 retailers have banded together to offer a one-day reprieve from shipping fees in an annual shopper's holiday known as Free Shipping Day. This year's Free Shipping Day, which guarantees delivery by Christmas Eve, takes place this Friday, December 16.

The website's founder, 30-year-old entrepreneur Luke Knowles, built and promoted the first Free Shipping Day website in just two weeks after having the idea on December 5, 2008. "It's a money-saving measure for consumers and a way to extend the online holiday shopping season for retailers," said Knowles. "Everyone benefits."

A visit to FreeShippingDay.com offers a list of participating web merchants. Among them are big names like Best Buy, Zales, Cabela's, Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, and JCPenney. Countless smaller, specialty stores, including hundreds of eBay and Etsy shops, are also taking part. We highly recommend a visit to the site to browse the list of retailers, which reads like the world's largest online shopping mall. If anything else, it might spark an idea for the perfect gift for that hard-to-shop-for friend or family member, and you can't put a price on inspiration like that.

This has been a guest post by Shanna from Harrisburg, PA
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