December 23, 2011, 11:47 AM

Delivering for Christmas

An Internet Retailer review of 100 online retailers found 25 guaranteeing delivery by Christmas.

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The order cut-off for Christmas delivery was Dec. 23 at eight top 100 online retailers.

Another 15 online retailers allowed for a final online order date of Dec. 22 for delivery in time for Christmas, which this year means by Saturday, Dec. 24, according to a review by Internet Retailer of the top 100 online retailers as ranked in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Among those pushing the delivery envelope the furthest were lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret, which guaranteed delivery by Christmas  for online orders placed by 5 p.m. Eastern time today, Dec. 23, and sports apparel merchant Football Fanatics, which pushed that deadline an hour later, to 6 p.m. Eastern time.

But the extra service isn’t free. Victoria’s Secret, No. 18 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, requires shoppers to pay in addition to standard shipping rates $23.99 for Saturday delivery; Football Fanatics, No. 98 in the Guide, charges $35 for the service.

Other retailers promising delivery by Christmas for online orders placed by Dec. 23 include Amazon.com, No. 1 in Guide, Office Depot, No,5, Hayneedle, No. 77, Williams-Sonoma, No. 25, Ralph Lauren, No. 70, and Abercrombie & Fitch, No. 56.

Amazon was still offering a “Top Holiday Deals” feature that it said would run through Dec. 23, with discounts of 50% or more on items including apparel, consumer electronics and DVDs, with delivery in time for Christmas. It didn’t list a cut-off time for online orders. Office Depot, No. 5 in the Guide, promised free next-day delivery by Christmas on all orders of $50-plus placed by 5 p.m., Dec. 23, in the customer’s local time zone.

Among the retailers promising Christmas delivery for online orders placed by Dec. 22, Bass Pro Outdoor Online, No. 86, offered a free upgrade to expedited shipping on all orders of $75 or more. Customers were still required to pay the standard shipping rate.

Overstock.com, No. 27, promised delivery by Christmas for orders placed by Dec. 22 with free expedited delivery on some products. Toys ‘R’ Us, No. 29, required shoppers to pay an express shipping fee for Christmas delivery of orders placed online by 3 p.m. Eastern time, Dec.  22.

Blue Nile, No. 60, offered free overnight shipping in time for Christmas of some orders placed online by 7 p.m. Eastern time, Dec. 22, though required an earlier order cut-off time of 4 p.m. Eastern time for orders of custom jewelry.

Other retailers promoted still other types of holiday specials.  Party supplies retailer  Oriental Trading, No. 64, looked ahead this week to the New Year’s Eve celebration with a promise to deliver goods by Dec. 31 for orders placed online by noon Central time on Dec. 28.

Electronic gift cards also had a prominent role in offers from retailers including J.C. Penney, No. 20, and Newegg, No. 12, each of which promised to deliver e-gift cards by Christmas if ordered online by noon Central time on Dec. 24. Amazon and L.L. Bean, No. 21, offer same-day delivery of e-gift cards, including on Christmas Day. Amazon notes that Dec. 25 is typically its largest sales day of the year for digital goods, including e-books, music and games; its second-largest digital sales days is usually Dec. 26.

Wal-Mart Stores, No. 6, offered free shipping to a Wal-Mart store in time for Christmas for orders placed online by 6 p.m. Dec. 22; it also offered free delivery by Christmas of orders placed online by Dec. 20.

The dash to Christmas, of course, was also front and center at other retailers outside the top 100. Brookstone, No. 189, a retailer of innovative gifts and household products, promised delivery in time for Christmas for online orders placed by 6 p.m. Eastern time, Dec. 22, for shoppers opting for expedited shipping. For standard shipping, its online order deadline was 5 p.m. Eastern time Dec. 20.

Indeed, one of the more generous delivery offers came from Quicksilver, a retailer of apparel for surfers, skateboarders and snowboarders and No. 581 in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide. It offered free overnight shipping on all online orders placed by 10 p.m. Eastern time Dec. 22.

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