Holiday Central

Standard shipping deadlines loom for online shoppers


Attention, procrastinators: Time is running out to place your online orders for guaranteed delivery by Christmas.

According to data compiled by customer service analytics firm StellaService, the most popular cutoff date—otherwise known as the final day shoppers can choose standard delivery and receive their packages by Christmas—is Friday.

But you'll have to act even faster if you want to order from retailers such as Victoria's Secret or Toys R Us. Victoria's Secret will close the book on its standard shipping promise in a few hours on Tuesday, while shoppers have until Wednesday to place orders at Toys R Us.

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Planning to order from online electronics store Newegg? Sorry, but its standard shipping deadline has already passed; still, shoppers have time to make an order eligible for three-day shipping.

Regardless of retailers' stated cutoff dates, online shopping experts have encouraged consumers to place their orders as early as possible, to ensure they receive their packages on time. Last year, wintry weather and record-high package volumes caused many people to get their gifts after Christmas.

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So far this year, it appears deliveries are running more smoothly. According to data from Slice, a firm that tracks shipments, average delivery speed for the first 18 days of the season, starting Black Friday, was 4.6 days. That compares to 5.4 days over a comparable period last year.

Still, Kevon Hills, vice president of research at StellaService, cautioned that shoppers need to pay close attention to retailers' deadlines because they can shift as the season progresses. Amazon, for example, announced on Tuesday that it extended its free shipping order cutoff to Friday. Prime members can order as late as Monday, three days before Christmas.

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"We certainly expect to see companies move that date around as we get closer to their cutoff," Hills said.

See the infographic below to check more than three dozen retailers' online shopping deadlines as of Tuesday at 9 a.m. Most have been converted to Eastern Standard Time, though some relate to local time.