December 17, 2013, 3:31 PM

Shoppers are still hitting the web for holiday gifts

As shipping deadlines loom, nearly half of consumers say they still plan to shop online for holiday gifts. That’s the highest percentage ever, the NRF says, reflecting consumer confidence in e-commerce.

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As of last Friday, Dec. 13, 49.9% of consumers said they planned to do at least some of their remaining holiday shopping online, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation, a retail industry trade group. With just days left before many shipping deadlines take effect, the data appear to show that consumers are more confident than in previous years that e-retailers will get orders to them in time to put them under the tree. The NRF says 49.9% is the highest percentage of consumers to ever say they will shop online this near Christmas in the 11-year history of the survey.

Other leading venues where consumers plan to complete holiday shopping are department stores, 45.4%; discount stores, 37.4%; electronics stores, 24.1%; and clothing or accessories stores, 23.6%. Only 8.3% of consumers said they had completed their holiday gift shopping as of Dec. 13. Respondents could select more than one answer.

Tomorrow, meanwhile, is the promotional day known as Free Shipping Day in which participating e-retailers offer free shipping with delivery promised by Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. As of today, the organizers behind free shipping day say 860 e-retailers, from individual eBay sellers to major e-retailers like Overstock.com and REI, are participating. Overstock is ranked No. 31 in the Top 500 Guide. REI is No. 67.

Shipping deadlines, even for fast-shipping programs, are drawing near. For ShopRunner, the two-day shipping membership program with 83 participating e-retailers, the deadline for placing orders with guaranteed delivery before Christmas is Thursday, Dec. 19. Members of the Amazon Prime paid shipping program who live in the contiguous United States have until midnight Eastern time on Sunday, Dec. 22, for the two-day shipping that comes as part of the program.

True Prime procrastinators can shop Amazon for select items as late as Dec. 23 and pay an extra $2.99 minimum fee per item. Amazon also offers “local express delivery” on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, for $3.99 per item. Local express delivery is available in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, the San Bernardino, CA, area, Washington, D.C., and in parts of New Jersey. Amazon.com Inc. is No. 1 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

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