'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the land, retailers were scrambling to get orders in hand.
For national chains, that means pushing their carriers to extend the drop-dead dates for guaranteed Christmas Eve deliveries, and leveraging their real estate for last-second in-store pickups.
At Best Buy, orders placed by 10:30 a.m. Central Time this Wednesday (Dec. 20) will be received by Christmas Eve, with no charge for shipping and no minimum purchase. (The cut-off is Dec. 19 for large-item home delivery.)
Same-day delivery service, eligible for select products in more than 40 metro areas, will run through Sunday, Dec. 24, Best Buy said, and orders placed by noon Christmas Eve will be received before Santa arrives.
Store hours have also been extended, to 8:00 a.m.–11 p.m. this week, and 7:00 a.m.–6 p.m. Christmas Eve.
For procrastinators supreme, customers can order online as late as 4 p.m. local time on Dec. 24 and pick up their purchase at a Best Buy store prior to closing. The retailer reminds us that 70 percent of Americans live within 15 minutes of one of their more than 1,000 locations.
Walmart does that one better, noting that 90 percent of citizens live within 10 miles of one of its box stores, and that in-store pickups of online orders double during the last two weeks of the holiday season. For those reasons, the discounter is making more items available for same-day pickup than ever before, it said, and is stretching the Christmas Eve deadlines to 4:00 p.m. local time Sunday for ordering online and 6:00 p.m. local time for pick up, when stores close for Christmas. (The company also continues to offer free two-day shipping throughout the year.)
“We know the vast majority of our customers are still shopping, and there is no more important time to deliver on our promise than the final days before Christmas,” said chief merchandising officer Steve Bratspies.
To help customers with their last-minute gift decisions, Walmart stores hosted “Gifts That Rock” parties across the country on Saturday (Dec. 16), where popular holiday items like video games, toys and kitchen appliances were made available for live demos.
Not to be outdone, Target said it will open its doors at 7:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve and keep them open as late as 11 p.m. that night, allowing online orders to be placed until 6 p.m. for pre-Santa pickup in stores.
For customers who prefer home deliveries, standard free-shipping orders must be placed by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday, Dec. 20, to be received by Saturday (Dec. 23), while one-day Express Shipping orders, where available, must be placed by noon local time on Friday to be received the next day.
“With just a week to go before Christmas, guests can feel confident they can get all their shopping done at Target – and on their terms,” said Mark Tritton, executive VP and chief merchandising officer. “Whether they take advantage of free shipping from Target.com, place an order for pickup, or stop by one of our more than 1,800 stores through Christmas Eve, Target is making it easier than ever for guests to save time and money on gifts, décor and everything else they need to pull off their holiday celebrations.”
And what of Amazon? As previously reported, the No. 1 e-tailer and No. 2 CE merchant has extended same-day delivery to more than 8,000 locales, and orders placed by 9:30 a.m. local time on Dec. 24 can be received before Christmas, while eligible Prime Now items can be ordered as late as 9:00 p.m. that night in more than 30 cities and still arrive before Santa’s sleigh.
But Amazon is already looking beyond Christmas, and today announced its second annual Digital Day, when more than 5,000 films, TV shows, mobile games, apps and e-books will go on sale at deep discounts of up to 80 percent off.
Related: What Amazon And Sears Have In Common