Store retailers offer in-store perks and discounts for last-minute shoppers, while other merchants send urgent warnings with delivery cutoff dates for presents to arrive by Dec. 25.

The holiday hustle is on as both retailers and consumers brace for the final shopping days of the festive season. Online retailers are sending urgent messages with final shipping cutoff dates, and merchants with stores are using them to their advantage by promoting in-store services and store pickup options.

Store specialties

Many retailers with stores chose to highlight them in email messages and on their homepages on Friday, Dec. 20. Williams-Sonoma Inc., No 31 in the 2019 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, chose to tout its in-store services on its homepage, including the option for shoppers to buy online pick up in store and receive free gift wrapping. Macy’s Inc. (No. 5), meanwhile, is offering the first 250 shoppers in each of its stores on Dec. 21 a free $10 Macy’s reward card.

Other retailers marketing their stores include J. Crew (No. 62), which in an email on Friday morning promoted a store-only offer of 50% off purchases over $200 and 40% off any purchase. Shoppers could also show a store associate that email for an additional 10% off a store purchase. Outdoor apparel and gear retailer L.L. Bean Inc. (No. 44) in a Friday morning email offered shoppers 15% off in stores through Christmas Eve if consumers showed store associates the email. That message also contained a prominent link to store locations and hours. Men’s apparel retailer Brooks Brothers (No. 188) in an email message announced up to 40% off of up to two items purchased in a store through Sunday when shoppers presented the email message to a store worker.

Target Corp. (No. 16), meanwhile, highlighted in-store pickup options on its website, as did Office Depot Inc. (No. 19), which featured its 1-hour store pickup program. Nordstrom Inc.’s (No. 18) homepage highlighted buy online pick up in stores for shoppers who “need it now.” Walmart (No. 3) devoted an entire section of its site to deals on items that could be ordered online and picked up the same day in a store.

There’s still hope (and time) for online shopping procrastinators

Several other retailers sent messages warning that shoppers need to pull out their wallets soon if they want gifts ordered online under the tree by Dec. 25.

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Walmart noted on its site that shoppers need to order by Dec. 22 for free shipping with arrival by Christmas. Dell Technologies Inc. (No. 4) advertised an order deadline of Dec. 23 for free express shipping for arrival by Dec. 25. Victoria’s Secret (part of L Brands Inc. No. 39) notes on its website, “Get it there by December 25! Order by 5PM Eastern Time 12/22 for domestic standard delivery.” And, at J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (No. 40), shoppers have until Dec. 22 to choose express shipping for arrival by Christmas.

An estimated 147.8 million U.S. consumers plan to shop on Saturday, Dec. 21, up from 134.3 million last year, according a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. That figure includes both in-store and online shopping. NRF’s data is based on a survey of 7,779 adult consumers conducted Nov. 27 through Dec. 5

“While many people started holiday shopping early, those who waited until Thanksgiving weekend are feeling the pressure due to the limited number of days this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” says NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “But there is still time to catch up. The last Saturday before Christmas has become the biggest shopping day of the year, and we expect an impressive turnout by procrastinators and those who just want to take advantage of really good deals.”

When consumers shop over the holidays

As of early December, 86% of holiday consumers had started shopping and completed 52% of their purchasing for the season, the NRF says. Last year at the same point, 88% of consumers had started shopping and completed 58% of their holiday purchases on average, the NRF notes.

For those who had at least half of their shopping left as of early December, 41% were still deciding what to buy, 28% were waiting for family and friends to tell them what they wanted, and 26% were holding off for the best deals.

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More than half (56%) of holiday shoppers said they plan to purchase their last gift during the week before Christmas, and 62% said they plan to shop on Saturday, Dec. 21.

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