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As Christmas draws inexorably near, the pressure is on to get all of your online shopping done so that you're not left with a barren tree. But what happens if the standard shipping deadlines whiz past, and you still have presents left to buy? Are you relegated to brick-and-mortar malls, like a commoner? Never! In fact, our deal archives show that soon enough, many online retailers will begin to offer discounted (and even free) expedited shipping. But when can you expect these promotions, and from what stores?
As it turns out, you won't have to wait long at all! Last year, we started seeing companies offer free expedited shipping as early as December 16, continuing through to December 22 — the last day possible to physically get something from a warehouse to your door in time for the holiday (without bending the laws of time and physics).
Last year on December 16, Dell Home was the first vendor to extend free shipping via next-day delivery. Then, over the next several days, additional retailers — including 1-800-Baskets, Adorama, American Eagle Outfitters, Apple, Ashford, Aveda, B&H Photo Video, Blue Nile, Bon-Ton, EMS, Kiehl's, MacMall, Moosejaw, Neiman Marcus, Origins, Perfumania, Sephora, Sierra Trading Post, Urban Outfitters, and Zales — offered some type of shipping upgrade. Most offered a no-strings-attached free upgrade to 2- or even next-day shipping, but several only upgraded the speed, not the cost. In other words, you paid the price for regular shipping, but received it via an expedited delivery method. That's better than nothing, right?
As you can see from the above list, there wasn't just one type of merchant to offer discounted expedited shipping last year. For those of us with a variety of people left to buy for, these offers thankfully came from every stripe of retailer: electronics, clothing, beauty, computers, and jewelry — each one an excellent gift category.
We've actually already seen the first merchant dip its toe into "expedited shipping" waters. On December 10, Backcountry added free 2-day shipping to all orders placed before December 20 at 7 pm ET. Similarly, Amazon announced that it would be extending its free Super Saver Shipping deadline to December 18, with guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery. That's two whole days later than usual, and thus, a shipping upgrade of sorts.
We expect to see the same blend of merchants offering such promotions this year as well. In fact, free shipping has become, in general, a requirement amongst retailers, and as we approach Christmas, speed will be a necessity if retailers hope to lure additional shoppers. As such, we might even see more expedited shipping discounts in 2012, from an even wider variety of merchants.
But what is the lesson we learn from this?
It pays to be lazy and not shop early. If you miss a deadline, dollar-hungry merchants are going to find new ways to make a sale, and if that means taking a hit on shipping, that's what they'll do. Procrastinators, rejoice!