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Speedy Shipping For Holiday Shopping?

Last December, I was so far ahead of schedule in my holiday shopping that I could devote a blog post to chronicling how many online holiday purchases had already arrived by Dec. 12. This year? Let's just say that I hate people like last year's me!

My family has already decided to ease up on the gift giving this year, on account of the economy. But then I also somehow forgot everything I'd learned over the past 10 years or so of online holiday shopping; I let almost all of the first half of December slide before tackling the job. That led me to shift some of my purchases to local stores to eliminate any "will it get there in time?" worries; fortunately, coupons and sale prices eliminated much of the price gap that often exists between online and land-based retail. (If only my neighborhood still had a cool, locally owned bookstore... sigh.)

So this post comes a week later in the month than last year's, and it doesn't include nearly as many retailers. In fact -- this I find very hard to believe -- I've only shopped at two online stores.

First, I bought two items at a storefront on Dec. 13. The site predicted that its "Economy" shipping option wouldn't get my purchase to my home before we would have left town for the holidays, so I spent another $2 or so on "Standard" shipping, with delivery estimated anywhere from today to Wednesday the 24th (so even with this, I felt like I was taking a risk). In fact, the order shipped the next day and landed on my front porch late in the afternoon on the 16th.

My other order went to Amazon on the 15th; here, I opted for the free "Super Saver Shipping" but had the order sent to my mom's house, where we're spending Christmas this year. The confirmation e-mail said these items would ship out on the 18th -- but the package began its journey on the 15th and arrived by the 18th.

(From the tracking page, I can see that my order only had to travel some 27 miles from a facility in Jersey City, N.J.; in that sense, you could say this order still took its time to show up.)

So maybe I wasn't so misguided to leave my online shopping shopping for the last two weeks. Then again, I'm not exactly the fastest person in the world when it comes to wrapping presents...

How has your online shopping gone so far this year? Are retailers under performing or exceeding your expectations in their deliveries?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  December 19, 2008; 12:12 PM ET
Categories:  The Web , The business we have chosen  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: New BlackBerry Phones: Both Sweet And Sour
Next: Reminder: Pack Software Updates Before Heading Home For the Holidays


My experience this year is positive.

I agreed to next-day air shipping on some UGG boots, not having any idea where they were going to be shipping from. $37. The customer service fax number was in Phoenix AZ, I'm in the Los Angeles area, so I figured that 'just in case', I would go for the best shipping option. The boots were shipped from Newbury Park CA, about 30 north of LA.

Had I known the shipping location, I probably would have gone for the free shipping. UPS delivers overnight in most of California, especially in LA.

Other than that, I am satisfied with my on-line purchases this year.

Posted by: blasher | December 19, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I've always found Amazon's Super Saver Shipping to overperform, so I have high hopes for the order I submitted on the 17th -- it shipped yesterday, so it will probably arrive today or tomorrow.

I was pleasantly surprised when I ordered something from a London store (it may have a stateside distributor, but I'm not sure) on the 14th, then realized that the cheapest delivery option only promised arrival within 10 business days (too late for Christmas!) -- but it arrived yesterday.

Posted by: Janine1 | December 19, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I feel pretty grinchy complaining when ships too EARLY, but I still think that they should work on whatever algorithm gives them their projected shipping date, because they were WAY off.

I wanted to order my girlfriend a bonsai tree for Christmas, which unfortunately is not the kind of gift that can sit in a sealed box for two weeks, which eliminates the possibility of ordering it early.

I checked shipping dates on Dec. 16 and was shocked to receive a warning that it would not arrive by Christmas Day. Knowing I would be leaving town on the 26th, I quickly had it shipped directly to her house. calmly put it in the mail on Dec. 17, and it arrived Dec. 18 ... a week early for Christmas. Nothing for it but to tell her to open the box -- it had "Live Plant" printed on the side, so there went my surprise.

She loved it, but it didn't turn out to be much of a Christmas present. More like "happy mid-December!" Gee, Amazon, thanks for your efficiency.

Posted by: docmcconl | December 19, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I have been delighted by how fast everything has been shipped this year. I even received my Woot! package earlier than usual. Amazon has been top notch. Hopefully this trend will continue.

Posted by: Nurseboy | December 19, 2008 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Apple has emailed customers offering express shipping for items purchased before Dec. 22. I will be all over that.

Still, I am in a quandary about whether to buy a Mac mini now or wait until Macworld in case there is an upgrade.

So far, I have deliveries from Eddie Bauer, Soma and Amazon.

Powell's, our local and national independent bookstore, is still hanging on, though it cut employees and hours of operation this week. (Used to be open until 11 every day of the year except Christmas.)

Posted by: query0 | December 19, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

It's four days until Christmas and I'm finding great free shipping deals at

Posted by: tony24 | December 20, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

If your going to take advantage of the amazon free shipping offer (like amazon prime) be sure to check out this web site first:

It's a free service that tracks prices of products from online stores (like amazon) and sends you an email when the price drops. You can set a target price or be notified when it falls by a certain percentage.

Posted by: chris250480 | December 20, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Amazon always ships Super Saver packages IMMEDIATELY during the holiday season. I've counted on it for three years running without being disappointed. Whether it's to avoid falling behind or to please their customers, free shipping packages arrive in just a few days during the holiday season. This is decidedly NOT the case the rest of the year, when their predicted shipping/arrival dates are more accurate. I imagine they underpromise and overdeliver in December to avoid setting expectations that are sure to be disappointed during the rest of the year.

Posted by: smg2 | December 20, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

I ordered everything on line! All is going smoothly again this year! I love it, and don't want to go back to the old way. Everything has shipped exactly as promised or sooner -- I even ordered something from England (free shipping, they said, to the US) and it already arrived, too! Excellent shopping experience. No stress, either.

Posted by: rjrjj | December 20, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

My comment is being held for approval by the blog owner ???

I hope it measures up.

Posted by: | December 21, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Had a little oops moment this year. I knew better but . . . . I ordered three books from I order from them frequently and thought there would be no problem but the combination of going for their offer of free shipping and the fact that one book is backordered meant that all three are delayed because the free shipping meant shipping in one package. By the time I noticed that it was too late, well not too late but I don't want to be ridiculous about the shipping price. Oh well, lesson learned. When they do arrive, it will be a pleasant winter surprise, right?

Posted by: gsdlea | December 22, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: | December 22, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Amazon sucks. Up until recently they were great but somehow there software flipped flopped my girlfriend's mailing address in Dupont, Wa with my billing address. package went to me instead of here. And Amazon's customer service wont believe me that the wrong billing address would have resulted in a declined sale using my Mastercard since her address is not the address on the card.

Posted by: omarthetentmaker | December 23, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

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