SAN ANTONIO — This holiday you will not only have to shop smart, but you will need to ship smart, too. You have already heard this advice:
“Shop early and ship early,” said Sara Skirboll, a shopping expert with Retail Me Not.
Skirboll said do not dread shipping deadlines. You have got options if you miss them. You can pay extra for premium shipping like express or overnight, but she said just be aware your item might arrive after that window because:
“You might remember there is processing time, too,” Skirboll said. “So, yes, your item might ship and be delivered to you in two days but it might not process for 24-48 hours.”
Many retailers are warning customers of shipping delays.
“You’ll see a pop up before you even check out,” Skirboll said. “That gives you a warning for a lot of retailers at least, that say this might not be delivered in two days or seven days because these days so many people are shopping online.”
“We’re probably looking at what is going to be one of the worst years in terms of shipping congestion and delays,” said Sriram Sridhar, CEO and co-founder of Late Shipment.com.
He researches shipping and took an in-depth look at holiday shipping in 2020. He found Texas’ central location means we see mostly on time delivery.
“Texas over the years has been a part of the country which is what we call the sweet spot,” Sridhar said.
Probably not this year.
“You are probably going to have at least one or two orders missed in terms of online delivery,” Sridhar said. “So the biggest recommendation we could make on that front is maybe have at least a backup plan for the most important gifts that you’re putting under the Christmas tree.”
That plan might be to forget about shipping together.
“We are probably going to get into the new year with almost everybody having faced some sort of issue with something that they ordered online,” said Sridhar.
“You should consider buying online, pick up curbside, completely contactless, totally safe,” Skirboll said. “You transact online and most of the time you get your items within two hours or less, which is pretty great, that instant gratification.”
Curbside pick up could also cost you less.
“I’ve seen discounts around 10 percent off if you take advantage of the service,” said Skirboll. “So, not a bad deal.”
Curbside pickup can also work for your loved ones who live far, as along as they are willing go get the gift.
“Put in the zip code of where your friends and family, your loved ones, are. Say your gift is ready in two hours, go pick it up,” Skirboll said.
Or consider delivery of a different type:
“You might want to consider places like traditional food delivery service,” Skirboll said. “I think Postmates, Uber Eats, even Favor. They’re now getting in on the gift delivery game.”
If you have to ship, consider this advice:
“Buy from retailers who are shipping from closer to you,” said Sridhar. “So if you’re having something shipped across the country that just adds more opportunities for something to go wrong. On the other hand, ship something from the same state as you or maybe choose a big box store that is very close to you.”
It is best not to play games with gifts this year by not being a last-minute shopper or shipper.
The deadline to use ground shipping, the least expensive type of mail delivery for packages, is December 15 for the post office, UPS and FedEX.