This holiday season’s demonstration of early shopping may help another nail-biting aspect of the holiday – shipping deadlines.

More retailers have taken this into their own hands by hiring local delivery services. Best Buy and other retailers are also using their own store employees.

Target owns Shipt, which got its start with groceries but now also delivers the rest of the store. In August, Walmart formed GoLocal, a delivery service it’s selling to other retailers.

And the biggest online retailer, Amazon, accelerated the buildout of its delivery system throughout the pandemic. Just this year, it opened more than 250 fulfillment centers, sortation centers, regional air hubs and delivery stations in the U.S.

But if you’re wrapping the gifts you’ve been purchasing since before Halloween, according to multiple surveys, and are now packing them into shipping boxes to friends and family, you can save money by taking note of these shipping deadlines:

U.S. Postal Service: For guaranteed delivery before Dec. 25 from the post office, Dec. 15 is the last day to mail using the least expensive service. Dec. 17 is the cutoff date for first-class mail, and Dec. 18 for priority mail. Express mail service deadline is Dec. 23. There are different deadlines for Alaska and Hawaii and earlier dates for international destinations.

UPS: Dec. 21 is the last day to ship UPS 3-Day Select for delivery on Dec. 24. Dec. 22 is the last day to ship UPS 2nd Day Air with guaranteed delivery on Dec. 24. UPS Next Day Air on Dec. 23 will be delivered on Dec. 24. There are no Christmas Day deliveries.

FedEx: The last day for FedEx Ground Economy rates is Dec. 9 and for other ground rates it’s Dec. 15. After that, FedEx Express rates begin Dec. 21 and end Dec. 24 with FedEx Same Day. There are no deliveries on Dec. 25.

Retailers have their own last-day-to-ship deadlines with guaranteed deliveries in time for Christmas and that information is on their websites.

Free Shipping Day is Tuesday, Dec. 14. It’s a day that hundreds of small and large retailers offer free shipping on all orders with no minimum purchase.

It looks like Americans heeded warnings about out-of-stock items and bought what’s in stock in September and October when retail sales on a year-over-year basis increased 14.3 percent and 16.3 percent, according to government data.

In most surveys, people said they were shopping earlier this year. While the industry measures holiday shopping from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, a record 49 percent said they planned to begin their holiday shopping before November. That’s up from 39 percent before the pandemic in 2019.


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