It's coming down to the home stretch for holiday shopping, which means if you need to ship presents, you'd better have a game plan by now -- especially if you want to take advantage of Free Shipping Day -- today, Dec. 16.
Nearly 2,000 merchants are offering free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve (with some restrictions) in the continental United States. Some are even sweetening the deal with one-day savings offers.
FreeShippingDay.com offered DailyFinance an early preview of what it considers retailers' "top offers," reflecting the biggest value to consumers relative to other promotions being offered on the site, and versus the discounts these retailers typically offer.
We've added in some extra tips to help you plot your shipping strategy for the remainder of the holiday season.
Stores Sweetening Offers
• Lands' End is slashing merchandise by 40%, in addition to waiving the shipping fees on all orders.
• Express is offering 30% off clothing and accessories, $25 off orders of $100 or more with a coupon code, and free shipping on all orders.
• The Children's Place (PLCE) is offering free shipping on all merchandise, plus 25% off the order.
• Jewelry retailer Ice.com will ship any order for free and shave 30% off the total cost.
• Eddie Bauer is selling merchandise at 40% off, and offering free shipping on orders over $49.
Maximize Free Shipping Day
• Buyer--or shipper--beware. "Don't assume that just because a website is participating in free shipping day you will receive the gift by Christmas," Jeanette Pavini, money savings expert with Coupons.com, tells DailyFinance. "Do your homework before clicking 'purchase' and find out when their cutoff day is."
• Opt for retailers that offer free returns as well as free shipping, so people can easily return gifts. "Usually these retailers will ship gifts with a prepaid return label," Pavini says.
And if You Missed Free Shipping Day ...
• Check out sites like Coupons.com and RetailMeNot.com, which offer free shipping codes at a variety of retailers.
• For those procrastinators who want to make sure their gifts arrive by Dec. 25, some stores offer free shipping coupon offers as late as Dec. 21 with guaranteed delivery by Christmas, according to The Offers.com Guide to Holiday Shipping Deadlines.
• About 180 stores, such as Barnes and Noble (BKS) and Kohls.com (KSS), offer standard shipping with guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery as late as Dec. 21, while more than 150 stores, including Kmart.com and Oldnavy.com, offer express shipping as late as Dec. 21, also with guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery, according to Offers.com.