Guide to Holiday Shipping Times, from your Shopportunist

Delivery times are fast approaching. If you send gifts to loved ones or shop online like millions of other Americans, you’ll want to make sure your packages arrive on time.

E-commerce sales continue to soar. Consulting firm Deloitte predicts online sales will grow 11-15% year-over-year during the 2021-2022 holiday season. In turn, parcel delivery demand is expected to exceed capacity by around 5 million packages per day during peak 2021 season, according to Carol Tomé, CEO of United Parcel Service (UPS). FedEx plans to deliver 10% more packages than in 2020, which is about 100,000 pieces more than pre-pandemic levels of peak season 2019.

With such a substantial increase in volume and all the uncertainty surrounding deliveries, lingering supply chain issues and labor shortages, preparation is key this holiday season. Depending on the store or the shipping method, procrastination can cost you a pretty penny or lead to a major disappointment on Christmas Day.

If you want to avoid last-minute stress and long lines at the post office or shipping store, review the delivery window and delivery times for each retailer and carrier before placing an order or shipping. ship a package. The sooner you buy or wrap gifts, the better off you are.

To save time and money, here are some additional shipping tips and deadlines to keep in mind.

Receipt of online orders

Buy on the day of free delivery. On Tuesday, December 14, hundreds of retailers will offer free shipping with no minimum order requirements and guaranteed delivery before Christmas Eve. With all of the uncertainties this year, shipping times are a moving target, especially at smaller retailers. it is probably best to place your order on the day of free delivery. You roll the dice if you wait much longer.

Choose same day delivery. Several major retailers promise to place gifts on your front porch the same day you order them. Best Buy offers free next day shipping on “thousands of items” available on its website, as long as you spend a minimum of $ 35. Target also offers free same-day shipping on orders of $ 35 or more when you opt for Shipt, a free membership plan for a four-week trial period, at checkout. Walmart also guarantees that certain products will arrive at your doorstep within two days, with no membership fees required.

Buy online and pick up in store. If you’re particularly worried that your gifts won’t arrive on time or you’ve procrastinated too much, BOPIS, the option to buy online and pick up in store may be a good option. Most major retailers including Target, Old Navy, Kohl’s, The Home Depot, Macy’s and many more will process your order for free in-store, provided the products are available. You can pick up your purchase or, in many cases, have it delivered to your car.

Sending gifts

Compare shipping rates. Use the USPS, FedEx, and UPS web tools to estimate and compare costs. They can vary widely and historically, packages shipped through the USPS cost less. There are online tools that can simplify entering delivery information at three sites. Plug the information into a site like or and you will receive free quotes from multiple couriers.

Record tracking numbers. For extra peace of mind, you’ll want to make sure your packages are delivered on the promised date, especially if you’ve paid extra for expedited shipping. Choose to track the package when available and follow up with the recipient to confirm it arrived on time and intact. Note that due to the ongoing pandemic, UPS and FedEx have suspended their money back guarantee programs for most services.

Stay on top of your expedition. If you want more control over your deliveries, consider signing up for a program like FedEx Delivery Manager. You can register for free and track your packages and receive delivery notifications. If you’re worried about porch pirates – thieves who steal packages from doorsteps – you can request to redirect your package to a nearby location, like your local Dollar General or Walgreen’s, and pick it up on time. United Parcel Services offers a similar program, called UPS My Choice, where you can manage all of your inbound and outbound shipments from a single dashboard.

Send your gift by email. If you’re really pressed for time and worried that your gift might not find its way under the tree on Christmas morning, consider sending an electronic gift card to the recipient’s email or text message to avoid all those rushed shipping charges and stress. Most retailers, service providers and restaurants offer this option.

Don’t miss the deadline. Shipping options vary in terms of speed and price. Standard shipping options have shorter lead times, and the more expensive premium and expedited options allow a bit more leeway and delay in orders.

Here are some mailing dates to keep in mind for domestic mail to ensure delivery before Christmas Day.

US Postal Service

December 15: USPS Retail Ground Service.
December 17: first class courier service
December 18: Priority mail service
December 23: Express Priority Mail Service


December 15: FedEx Ground (United States) and FedEx Home Delivery
December 21: FedEx Express Saver
December 22: FedEx 2Day and FedEx 2Day AM
December 23: FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight and FedEx First Overnight
December 24: FedEx the same day


December 15: grounding of the inverter
December 21: UPS 3 days Select
December 22: UPS 2nd Day Air
December 23: UPS Next Day Air

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