Retailers will push shoppers to not be such procrastinators this holiday season -- at least when it comes to placing online orders after last year’s shipping snafu.
About 79 percent of retailers will set their standard shipping deadlines for guaranteed Christmas delivery to expire at least a week before the holiday, compared to 74 percent who said they would do so last year, according to a survey conducted for Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation.
And about 21 percent will set deadlines to expire Dec. 19 or later, compared to 26.3 percent who said they would do so last year.
The earlier deadlines are a response to last year’s debacle in which the shipping system was overwhelmed by the bevy of last-minute orders that led to millions of holiday gifts that were not delivered in time for the Christmas deadline. Aggressive shipping promotions by retailers up until the very end didn't help, either.
“It’s important to remember that the 2013 holiday season was impacted by a multitude of factors that affected the supply chain in the days leading up to Christmas, including bad weather and a shortened holiday calendar,” Vicki Cantrell, Shop.org’s executive director, said in a statement. “That said, retailers and their delivery partners this year are proactively planning to make sure they meet customer expectations for delivery and customer service.”
The caution this year also comes at a time when UPS and FedEx are being more proactive in talking to retailers about what is realistic. UPS, for example, has been pushing retailers to hold their biggest sales in mid-December and to banish overnight shipping offers on Dec. 23, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Some retailers have -- sort of -- listened. Nordstrom has moved back its guaranteed-to-arrive-by-Christmas deadline by three hours to noon on Dec. 23. But others desperate to bring in as much holiday sales as possible have extended their deadline. JCPenney, for example, is guaranteeing standard shipping orders before midnight on Dec. 20, up three days from last year, the Journal reported.