Smart Buying

10 Online Retailers Most Likely to Ship Gifts Quickly

These companies have good track records for delivering purchases in just a few days. Plus, retailers with slow shipping times.

With little more than a week left until Christmas, shoppers who order gifts online are cutting it close if they want their items shipped in time to appear under the tree on December 25. You get guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve by purchasing items on December 17 from any of the nearly 1,700 retailers participating in Free Shipping Day (see How to Get Free Shipping on Holiday Orders). But if you miss that opportunity, you might have to pay a lot to get expedited shipping.

You do have another option, though. You can buy from merchants that have a good track record of shipping quickly. We asked STELLAService, an independent company that evaluates retailers, to tell us which companies ship the fastest -- and slowest. It looked at retailers' shipping times from the past six months beginning May 1.

Fastest shippers

Of the top 25 online retailers, these shipped the fastest. The shipping times reflect the average amount of time it took the retailer to deliver orders.

1. Staples.com, 1 day and 16 hours
2. Zappos.com, 2 days
3. OfficeMax.com, 2 days and 1 hour
4. Amazon.com, 2 days and 20 hours
5. OfficeDepot.com, 2 days and 22 hours
6. Newegg.com, 3 days and 5 hours
7. Walmart.com, 3 days and 17 hours
8. Store.Sony.com, 3 days and 18 hours
9. Store.Apple.com, 3 days and 22 hours
10. Gap.com, 4 days

Zappos.com also is just one of two top 25 online retailers to offer free shipping on every purchase. LLBean.com is the other, but it’s one of the ten slowest shippers on STELLAService’s list.

Slowest shippers

Of the top 25 online retailers, these shipped the slowest :

1. Dell.com, 7 days and 4 hours
2. HSN.com, 7 days and 4 hours
3. Overstock.com, 6 days and 1 hour
4. Target.com, 6 days
5. QVC.com, 5 days and 22 hours
6. Williams-Sonoma.com, 5 days and 17 hours
7. JCPenney.com, 5 days and 2 hours
8. Macys.com, 5 days and 2 hours
9. BestBuy.com, 5 days
10. LLBean.com, 4 days and 19 hours

Dell’s slow shipping time might be a result of customers taking advantage of its free-shipping option. It offers free five-to-seven day ground shipping on all customized consumer and home office products, with no minimum purchase required, says Dell spokeswoman Christina-Marie Furtado. During November, Dell was actually one of the fastest shippers, with an average delivery time of one day and 16 hours, according to STELLAService.

Overstock.com President Jonathan Johnson says that his company’s six-day average for shipping, as reported by STELLAService, is likely skewed because much of what the retailer sells are larger products, such as furniture and televisions, that can only be delivered when the customer is at home to receive them. It takes time to coordinate such deliveries, he says. Most of the smaller products that Overstock.com sells get to customers in fewer than three and a half days, he says.Overstock.com's average delivery time for the month of November was five days and seven hours, acccording to STELLAService.

A statement from Target claims that Target.com meets its estimated delivery dates 99% of the time, on average, and that its delivery timelines have improved throughout the year.

HSN.com did not respond to a request for an explanation of it its slow shipping time.

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