Holiday shipping deadlines and guidelines
Holiday shipping deadlines, guidelines
For most of the year, online shopping offers the convenience of being able to browse and buy at your leisure. But even the web gets hit by the holiday rush. This is the time of year that the shipping and delivery options for online orders can go from final checkout detail to major gift-giving hurdle if not planned for ahead of time.
Now is a great chance to look at the standard shipping procedures of your favorite stores. In the fine print, there can be information about how long it takes stores to process orders, mailing to multiple addresses, and restrictions on rush delivery – all useful facts for choosing the best shipment method for your gifts.
Important deadlines to know for USPS, FedEx and UPS
The United States Postal Service, Federal Express, and the United Parcel Service all have a series of shipping deadlines you will want to adhere to in order to be certain your gifts and packages will be delivered by Christmas Day. If you are planning to ship via the USPS, the least expensive option is Parcel Post. December 15 is the last day to ship via Parcel Post for arrival by Christmas Day. You have a little bit more wiggle room if you choose to pay for premium shipping options including First Class Mail (December 20), Priority Mail (December 21) and Express Mail (December 22).
If you choose to ship via FedEx, there are a few more options for guaranteed delivery by December 25. The deadline for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery is December 17. From there, it gets a little trickier. Although the calendar says its five days before Christmas, December 20 is the deadline for items sent via FedEx 2Day. Items sent via FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight and FedEx First Overnight all need to be processed no later than December 22. If you’re willing to pay top dollar, there is a FedEx SameDay delivery option for December 25.
If you are going with the UPS option, keep note of these deadlines for Christmas delivery. As there is no regularly scheduled UPS pickup or delivery service on December 25, you will want to ship items earlier than you would USPS and FedEx. December 20 is the deadline to ship anything via UPS 2nd Day Air if you want to make sure it arrives by December 24. If you’re going with UPS Next Day Air, make sure everything is processed by December 21.
Shop early, ship early
Most retailers offer three delivery options, with customers paying the most to receive packages in the shortest time. By shopping early you’ll get a better selection on holiday specials and be able to save on your order with the standard shipping rate. Keep an eye out for stores featuring free shipping on purchases over a certain amount, especially from places like the Bed Bath & Beyond Store sending large items. Keep an eye out for restrictions, but snag deals when you find them.
If you’re running short on time, be sure to check store shipping guidelines. For example, Kohl’s cut-off dates are Dec. 19 for standard shipping, and Dec. 20 for priority.
At Toys R Us, the deadline for Standard Shipping is Dec. 19. Expedited is Dec. 20, and Express is Dec. 21.
Know when your items ship
An overlooked point to shopping online is the amount of time it takes stores to process orders, and certain items may take longer to get on the road. The personalization of gifts from franchise stores like Disney will add one-to-two days to delivery. For pre-orders on electronics, tech giants like Microsoft hold shipment on non-downloadable items until the product release date.
Sending to multiple addresses
The idea of one-stop holiday shopping is appealing, even when store-hopping online. Sometimes finding the gifts is the easy part. Distribution can get tricky with friends and family in different locations. Megastores like Target offer shipping to multiple addresses at checkout, making it easy to direct where each item in your order needs to go. One way of taking out the shipment guesswork is to select in-store pickup, an option that is becoming more popular with wholesalers like Walmart.