Shoppers may need to be more organised than ever before Christmas as some retailers are setting earlier than usual final online order dates.
In recent years, online shoppers have been able to put off last-minute ordering as retailers raced to give the latest possible delivery date.
However, thanks to the pandemic, this has changed somewhat, with some stores moving order deadline dates to 12 December, nearly two weeks before the big day to ensure all parcels can be delivered on time, according to data from delivery firm ParcelHero.
A number of stores have moved their delivery deadline date earlier due to the pandemic
The outbreak means delivery networks are coping with a 53 per cent rise in volumes before Christmas orders had even begun.
As such, a large number of stores have realised gifts will arrive late if they don’t pull deadlines back.
David Jinks, ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, said: ‘In 2019, many retailers were offering Christmas orders almost up to the big day itself.
‘This year, several are playing things much safer to allow for the lockdown logjam.
‘Since March, retailers and couriers have been battling with what is, effectively, a perpetual Christmas peak.
‘Once the “real” Christmas season arrives, retailers and their delivery partners will be stretched to near-breaking point.’
Last year, 387million of the 462million Christmas peak deliveries were online shopping orders.
This year, retailers’ deliveries alone will put an estimated 592million parcels in the system in the weeks before Christmas, according to ParcelHero.
These parcels are in addition to all the gifts people are sending to their friends and relations during lockdown.
Earliest deadlines for orders
• Dell: 12 December
• HP: 12 December
• Liberty: 15 December
• Selfridges: 17 December
• George (Asda): 17 December
• The Conran Shop: 17 December
Latest deadlines for orders
Both Amazon and Argos will accept orders and offer same day delivery up until 24 December, Christmas Eve.
• Amazon: 24 December
• Argos: 24 December
A number of other stores have same day click and collect.
Liberty, the London department store, informed the firm that if, for any reason, lockdown were to extend to mid-December, they would no longer be able to offer express shipping.
Jinks added: ‘Several retailers are cautioning their dates may be pulled back still more if their courier partners become any further stretched.
‘We agree that any further strain on delivery chains, such as an extended lockdown or snow, could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
‘Not every retailer is being so cautious in their ordering deadlines. Several are still planning to push the delivery envelope as far as possible.
‘Christmas Eve same-day deliveries look highly ambitious this year. Only Amazon has control over its deliveries because it owns Amazon Logistics, which now delivers around 10 per cent of all UK parcels.
‘Other retailers are very optimistic in planning for same-day express deliveries on Christmas Eve, though this date is achievable for in-store collection – assuming non-essential stores are open.
‘Given the strain on delivery services already, we won’t be at all surprised if retailers change to even earlier final order dates as Christmas nears.’
Shoppers are already trying to secure their Christmas food shop delivery for December
Supermarket delivery slots
One of the biggest challenges for shoppers is to get their Christmas food shop delivered as and when they choose.
With so many more people relying on online food shopping than ever before, the demand for Christmas slots has also increased significantly.
Tesco had to release a statement after launching its Christmas slots last week with many claiming to be queuing for hours.
This is despite Britain’s biggest supermarket doubling the number of available deliveries since the start of lockdown.
Ocado has also run out of slots due to the spike in demand although more may be made available in early December.
It was reported last week that Waitrose had more than tripled the number of online order drop-off and collection slots ahead of the festive season to 190,000 each week, but these are already being sold out.
All the slots between December 20 and Christmas Eve are already fully booked in some areas.
Similarly, many of ASDA’s Christmas slots are also already booked up.
However, Sainsbury’s has not yet released its, only revealing that for delivery from 20 December, customers can book from 29 November.
Morrisons has also not yet released its delivery slots and has not yet confirmed when it will.
Other customers are trying to get a click and collect slot, many of which will also not be available until later in the month or early December.
Postal delivery dates
For those sending second class and second class signed for letters through the Royal Mail, the last date to post to get somewhere in the UK in time for Christmas is Friday 18 December, it says.
Meanwhile, for first class and first class signed for, consumers must post by Monday 21 December.
For Royal Mail tracked 48 hour delivery, customers are advised to post by Tuesday 22 December.
For Royal Mail tracked 24 hour delivery, people can post by Wednesday 23 December for special delivery guaranteed.
Last delivery dates for stores
To help people ensure they receive items in time for Christmas, ParcelHero has listed the earliest and latest deadlines for various retailers across the UK.
House of Fraser
The White Company