Online Sites Court Procrastinators with Speedy Shipping

Forget ordering online weeks in advance or dashing out to the drug store for a gift card on Christmas Eve. Procrastinating holiday shoppers are finding a haven online as retailers ramp up expedited shipping and same-day delivery services.

Far from discouraging last-minute online shoppers, retailers are actually courting them. Amazon is offering a "Procrastinator's Delight" special. Clothing retailer Madewell proclaims on its website that "procrastinators get the best deals" -- 25 percent off everything, with orders as late as noon Thursday for holiday deliveries.

It's a far cry from 2013, when Amazon and package deliverers misjudged demand and delivered some holiday packages after Christmas . Since then, the Seattle company has added warehouses to be closer to customers. It has also leased jets and trucks to get packages delivered on time -- even last-minute orders. Package carriers such as FedEx and UPS have also increased staffing and hired outside contractors for the holiday season.

"So many people are shopping online because it's easier," said Sucharita Mulpuru, chief retail strategist for the ShopTalk retail conference. "They're waiting for last minute because nobody is encouraging them to shop earlier."

Trust in Reliability

If you're an online shopper in the days leading up to Christmas and Hanukkah, be ready to forgo free shipping and shell out for expedited service. Look for sites that offer detailed shipping information. And check where the package is coming from -- if it's shipping from China or the U.K., you won't get it in time.

But the extra cost and vigilance is worth it to those seeking to avoid the hassles of jam-packed stores, crowded parking lots and frenzied crowds.

Laura Curtis turned to expedited two-day shopping from Etsy and elsewhere when she realized she needed more gifts for her nieces and nephews.

"I'm usually way done by now," said the writer from Mt. Kisco, New...

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