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Time Running Short for Shipping: Deadlines for 11 Major Online Retailers

Most free shipping offers have gone up the chimney, but there's still time to get gifts delivered by Christmas. The deadlines for 11 major retailers.

If you still have some holiday gift items sitting in your online shopping carts, it’s time to head to checkout if you want your gifts to arrive by Christmas Eve.

Each major retailer works offers different shipping options — though by now, many free standard shipping opportunities have gone up the chimney.

Here are the holiday shipping schedules of 11 major retailers. Note that if you’re shipping to Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico, you’ll need to do some extra investigating, and most likely you’re too late. Also note that just like in the old days, inclement weather can cause delay, so don’t wait any longer.


The mega online retailer is “primed” to accommodate last minute Santas — even offering a same day shipping option on Christmas Eve.

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However, if you’re looking to get free shipping, you’ve missed the order cutoff date, which was Dec. 16. Here are your remaining options:

Standard shipping deadline: Dec. 18.

Two-day shipping (free with Prime): Dec. 22.

One-day shipping: Dec. 23.

Same day delivery: Dec. 24.

2. eBay

When ordering from eBay, the shipping time depends on the handling time and shipping service (eBay vendors variously use USPS, UPS, and FedEx). EBay has added a helpful feature that shows shoppers, in red bold font at the bottom of the product listing, if a particular item will arrive by the 24th.

EBay doesn’t have its own cutoff dates, and instead refers shoppers to the generic deadlines advertised by the UPS, USPS, and FedEx, respectively.

Sixty-three percent of transactions on eBay ship for free, eBay told NBC News in an email statement. But free shipping may mean slow shipping — so you shouldn’t wait any longer.

3. Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart isn’t offering any special holiday shipping perks, and is focusing instead on deep product discounts, as the the Associated Press reported in October.

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Per usual, the mammoth retailer is offering free shipping on orders over $50 (you can also buy unlimited three-day shipping with ShippingPass, for $50 a year). If you’re spending less than $50, prepare to fork over $4.97 per order.

Wal-Mart’s window for this free shipping, aka “value deliveries” is 3-7 business days — so it actually closed on the Dec. 16. Here are your remaining options, none of which are free:

Standard Delivery: Dec. 19, before 12 p.m. ET.

Expedited delivery: Dec. 22, before 12 p.m. ET.

Rush orders: Dec. 23 before, 12 p.m. ET.

4. Target

Target is touting free shipping and free returns through Dec. 25, with no minimum purchase. It’s pretty impressive that you can place orders up ‘til Christmas Day — not that you’ll actually be able to get them anywhere then.

Here are the options for arrival by Dec. 24:

Free Standard Delivery: Dec. 21.

Premium Shipping: Dec. 22.

Express shipping: Dec. 23.

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Target hasn’t indicated whether same-day delivery or Target InstaCart, which is intended to get orders at your door within two hours, will be available on Christmas Eve, but since the retailer is clearly looking to impress in the holiday shipping department, we bet it’ll have its sleighs out in full force.

5. Best Buy

Best Buy also has been making this a very merry mailing holiday, with free standard shipping. Alas, last call for free standard shipping (3 to 7 business days) was Thursday at 10:30 a.m CT. Most movies and music had a cutoff for free shipping of Dec. 15.

Here’s what you have left to choose from:

Expedited Delivery: Dec. 22 before 10:30 a.m. CT.

Express Delivery: Dec. 23 before 10:30 a.m. CT.

If you’re shipping a large home-delivery item, the shipping cutoff is Dec. 22 and the cost will vary.

6. Macy’s

Mom needs a scarf, Dad needs gloves, and you need Macy’s to ship that stuff ASAP. You’re still in luck.

Macy’s is offering free delivery on standard shipping for orders that top $99, which feels like a missed opportunity for the retailer that has been in a fiscal slump.

Standard Shipping: Dec. 22 before 5 p.m. ET.

Premium Shipping: Dec. 22 before 5 p.m. ET.

Express Shipping: Dec. 23 before 12 p.m. ET.

Most retailers let procrastinators wait until Christmas Eve to get an e-gift card delivered via email, but not Macy’s. You have until Dec. 23 before 1 p.m. ET.

7. Apple

To add a little extra sparkle to its very shiny holiday gift guide, Apple is offering free two-day shipping on all its products except for iPhones, which come with free one-day shipping.

Apple doesn’t specify when you need to get your orders in for guaranteed Dec. 24 delivery, but offers two-day and three-day options, with a 5 p.m. local time cutoff.

8. Dell

Dell’s holiday shipping scheme is a little more complicated. The company is offering free shipping, but only on some options, and it’s not clear from its shipping page what they are. Dell did not reply to NBC’s request for clarification.

Standard Shipping (3-5 Days): Dec. 18, before 2 p.m. ET.

Second-Business Day Delivery: Dec. 21, before 2 p.m ET.

Next Business Day Delivery: Dec. 22, before 2 p.m. ET.

9. Sears and Kmart

Because Sears Holding Co. owns both Sears and Kmart, both have the same holiday shipping policy. Free standard shipping applies to orders of $35 or more —but this excludes a lengthy list of items such as pet supplies, bikes, grills, and outdoor play sets.

Standard Shipping: Dec. 22 at 4 p.m. CT.

Premium Shipping: Dec. 23 at 4 p.m. CT.

10. Toys R Us

Lucky for the kids, you still have time to order toys and get them under the tree. And shipping is free on orders of $19 and over. Here are the remaining deadlines:

Standard Shipping: Dec. 19 by 11:59 p.m. ET.

Expedited Shipping: Dec. 22 by 3 p.m. ET — also your last chance to order a gift card online.

Express Shipping: Dec. 23 by 12 p.m. ET.

11. Guitar Center

Musical instruments are a pretty popular gift item, especially for kids no longer interested in toys (drum kit, anyone?). At Guitar Center, you can still get free standard shipping through Dec. 20 so long as you place your order before noon ET and aren’t buying anything oversized, used, vintage, or on clearance.

Considering the sheer weight and delicate nature of musical gear, the other shipping options aren’t bad either.

Free Ground Delivery: Dec. 20, before 12 p.m. ET.

Two-Day Shipping (for $10 flat): Dec. 22, before 12 p.m. ET.

Next-Day Shipping (for $20 flat): Dec. 23, before 12 p.m. ET.