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Last-minute shoppers still have ways to buy online before Christmas

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The stronger performance by carriers could be giving retailers greater confidence to extend shipping deadlines.

Amazon last week said it would extend its offer for free holiday shipping, with no minimum purchase or Prime membership required, through Dec. 18. The option was previously set to end Dec. 14. Prime members in certain markets can meanwhile receive free, same-day delivery through Dec. 24.

Walmart then said that for select items and store locations, shoppers will be able to order online as late as this Saturday and have purchases arrive before Christmas. For a larger selection of merchandise, the company has a 2 p.m. cut-off time this Thursday for delivery by Christmas Eve. The Dec. 22 option is new this year for Walmart, a spokeswoman confirmed to Imagala.com.

And Target said this week that, for the first time, it’s promising eligible orders placed online through this Thursday will arrive, with no shipping fee, by Christmas Eve. Shipt members will be able to order certain items up until two hours before some Target stores close Dec. 24 for same-day delivery, the company said.

“Amazon’s move to extend its holiday shipping terms reflects growing competition among retailers for fast, inexpensive shipping,” Jefferies analyst Randal Konik said. “This dynamic has only escalated throughout the holiday season, with retailers both small and large lowering their free-shipping thresholds and offering expedited options.”

While retailers are giving shoppers more time to buy online this holiday season, they’re also trying harder to encourage customers to pick their internet orders up at a store.

This week heading into Christmas, Walmart will let shoppers place orders on its website up until 4 p.m. Dec. 23, and they can then pick those items up in stores until 5 p.m. Dec. 24. Target said shoppers can order through 6 p.m. Christmas Eve and pick online orders up by the time their local store closes that same day. That’s for the true procrastinators.

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